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 freelance political scientist and an associate researcher at the GIGA. She studies Eritrea and the Horn of Africa, focusing on the stability of authoritarian systems, transnational structures, and the diaspora.

Recent Publications by the Authors

Nicole Hirt

Länderbericht Religionsfreiheit: Äthiopien

Internationales Katholisches Missionswerk missio e.V.: Länderberichte Religionsfreiheit, 39, 2018

Nicole Hirt

Menschenrechte in Eritrea: Ort der Menschheits­verbrechen oder verkanntes Musterland?

Internationales Katholisches Missionswerk missio e.V.: Fachstelle Menschenrechte, 71, 2018

Nicole Hirt

Eritrea

in: Jon Abbink / Victor Adetula / Andreas Mehler / Henning Melber (eds.), Africa Yearbook Vol. 14: Politics, Economy and Society South of the Sahara in 2017, Leiden: Brill, 2018, 308-316

Nicole Hirt

Djibouti

in: Jon Abbink / Victor Adetula / Andreas Mehler / Henning Melber (eds.), Africa Yearbook Volume 14: Politics, Economy and Society South of the Sahara in 2017, Leiden: Brill, 2018, 301-307