Nicole Hirt

The Eritrean Diaspora: Savior or Gravedigger of the Regime? Diaspora Responses to the Imposition of UN Sanctions

GIGA Working Paper, No. 236, October 2013

Abstract
This article examines the impact of UN‐imposed sanctions on the stability of the Eritrean regime, using diaspora behavior as an explanatory variable of crucial importance. It explores the transnational nature of Eritrean society, which is characterized by long‐distance nationalism, and examines the history and structure of the Eritrean diaspora as well as its transformation since the political crisis of 2001. The paper argues that the government and its supporters among the diaspora, as well as regime opponents, have all instrumentalized the sanctions for their own specific purposes. While the former use the sanctions to create a "rally around the flag" effect and for fundraising purposes, the latter campaign against the 2 percent diaspora tax levied by the government because it may be used for illicit purposes in breach of the sanctions regime. However, due to the opposition’s disunity and failure to organize joint campaigns, its efforts have so far failed to decisively contribute to the demise of Eritrea’s crumbling rebel regime. Meanwhile financial flows to both the government’s coffers and to private individuals continue to play a stabilizing role. Nevertheless, unsuccessful domestic policies, the mass exodus resulting from the militarization of the entire society and an isolationist foreign policy are all contributing to the growing weakness of the regime, and with it the State of Eritrea.

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Dr. Nicole Hirt is a political scientist and research fellow at the GIGA Institute of African Affairs. Her research focuses on politics and society in the Horn of Africa, migration, transnationalism, and diaspora studies. Her current research project “Do Diasporas Contribute to the Persistence of Authoritarian Rule? Responses of Eritrean Citizens Abroad to Transnational Governance” deals with the stabilisation of authoritarian regimes through transnational power structures. She is also a participant in the project “Comparing Crises”.

Recent Publications by the Authors

Nicole Hirt

Djibouti

in: Victor Adetula / Benedikt Kamski / Andreas Mehler / Henning Melber (eds.), Africa Yearbook Volume 15: Politics, Economy and Society South of the Sahara in 2018, Brill, forthcoming

Nicole Hirt

Eritrea

in: Victor Adetula / Benedikt Kamski / Andreas Mehler / Henning Melber (eds.), Africa Yearbook Volume 15: Politics, Economy and Society South of the Sahara in 2018, Brill, forthcoming

Nicole Hirt

Zwischen Selbstfindung und Krieg: Die Entwicklung der ehemaligen "Brothers in Arms" Äthiopien und Eritrea

in: Zentrum für Militärgeschichte und Sozialwissenschaften der Bundeswehr (ed.), Wegweiser zur Geschichte. Horn von Afrika, ZMSBw, forthcoming, 65-78

Nicole Hirt

Commentary: UN Security Council Resolution 2444 (2018) and the Lifting of Sanctions Against Eritrea: A Commentary on Domestic and Regional Perspectives

in: Zeray Yihdego / Melaku Geboye Desta / Martha Belete Hailu (eds.), Ethiopian Yearbook of International Law 2018, 2019, 269-285