Publications

This paper considers how responsibility for ensuring refugee protection and access to solutions can be shared more reliably across and beyond the United Nations’ system and traditional humanitarian actors, as well as the role states can play in supporting a broader response from the UN system. Drawing upon a range of literature and concepts, including the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, it provides recommendations for how to more fully engage these other actors to improve the prevention of, response to and resolution of displacement. Read More
Refugee crises are unfolding amid increasingly intensive use of information and communication technologies. Mobile phones are indispensable digital companions to many displaced people. Humanitarian organizations use biometrics, database and mobile payment systems, and artificial intelligence, aiming to streamline their services, enhance accountability and reduce costs. These technologies have arguably improved refugees’ lives, and by some measures, improved assistance, but they can also generate harms. Understanding the latest digital developments is critical for humanitarian leaders, public policy makers and academics in managing their shared responsibility of protecting refugees and internally displaced people. Read More
In recent years, alongside the negotiations surrounding the New York Declaration and the Global Compact on Refugees, states, international organizations, civil society organizations and academics have put forward initiatives for more effective and equitable methods for sharing responsibility for refugees. This paper examines these proposals and programs, analyzing their strengths and limitations. It highlights opportunities associated with incorporating refugees within broader development or human mobility initiatives, while reiterating the need to preserve the principal humanitarian purpose of refugee protection and finding durable solutions. Read More
The modern refugee regime lacks a clearly defined system of governance. This paper proposes a model for enhanced governance that could contribute to improved protection and solutions for refugees. Read More
Using examples drawn from interviews with refugees who have arrived in Europe since 2013, and an analysis of the impacts of the 2016 EU-Turkey deal on migration, this paper analyzes how the vast amount of data collected from refugees is gathered, stored and shared today, and considers the additional risks this collection process poses to an already vulnerable population navigating a perilous information-decision gap. Read More
Efforts are being made to use information and communications technologies to improve accountability in providing refugee aid but there remains a pressing need for increased accountability and transparency when designing and deploying humanitarian technologies. This paper outlines the challenges and opportunities presented by these emerging technologies for the refugee system. Read More
The number of internally displaced persons is at a record high, with most living in protracted displacement. While the humanitarian response in emergency situations is more effective than a decade ago, overall governance remains weak. This paper address several questions: What governance gaps and challenges exist in responses to internal displacement? Are there promising new approaches to internal displacement? How can we build on these approaches to make responses more reliable and effective? Read More
In theory, refugee situations are resolved through three “durable solutions” — voluntary repatriation, local integration in host states or resettlement to third countries — but these options have become increasingly elusive. This paper reviews recent developments, ideas and opportunities associated with the search for durable solutions. Read More
This paper explores the ways in which refugee “voices” can be concretely translated into policy affecting refugees directly (most obviously through the policies of the UN Refugee Agency and other refugee-protection agencies and their implementation). The author makes four arguments: first, that incorporating refugee voices is ethically required; second, that besides being the right thing to do, it is also practically desirable; third, that taking refugee voices seriously can dramatically improve the effectiveness of policy implementation; and fourth, that refugee voices can greatly enhance the intelligence of policy and institutional design. Read More
Since it was convened in May 2017, the World Refugee Council has travelled to host countries on five continents, to better understand first-hand the problems of the global refugee system, and to consult those people with direct knowledge. Its findings come together in this report, with 55 recommendations offering bold, actionable ideas with which to galvanize political will and transform the system. Read More
"The Essentials" summarizes the World Refugee Council's 55 recommendations in its report "A Call to Action: Transforming the Global Refugee System." They offer bold, actionable ideas with which to galvanize political will and transform the system. Read More
Refugee entrepreneurship has substantial benefits for the business owner and host community alike and can be facilitated through the establishment of supportive policies and initiatives; however, newcomers aspiring to begin their own businesses face several obstacles. This paper identifies some of these challenges and aims to provide a foundation on which further investigation, strategic planning and efforts to implement solutions could be based. Read More
Traditional financing mechanisms for the global refugee system do not reflect current realities on the ground. Today’s trends of displacement call for new responses, and compact agreements are a promising model for achieving reform. Using the 2016 Jordan and Lebanon compacts as case studies, the authors recommend several protocols to follow in developing compacts and propose two new global governance tools to aid in creating focused, informed, coordinated and transparent host country policy changes that can enable refugee self-reliance. Read More
The global refugee system lacks a comprehensive and sustainable approach to responsibility sharing, in particular as it relates to the distribution of social and financial costs of hosting refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. Selective use of World Trade Organization-consistent trade measures offers the possibility of an economically sustainable and viable means of support for not only forcibly displaced persons but also the communities that host them. This paper assesses the trade law aspects of various trade measures-based options, focusing on the 1994 Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization and the 2016 EU-Jordan Agreement. Read More
More than 1.6 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2015, and with no end in sight for Venezuela’s economic, humanitarian and governance crisis, the forced migration challenge will only grow. Read More
This paper examines xenophobia in the refugee context, exploring its definition and many complex aspects, including its roots, expressions, impacts and key challenges. The author outlines the lessons that successful efforts in combatting xenophobia offer those involved in research and advocacy, and recommends actions ranging from holding states and individual leaders accountable, to strategically using media campaigns and improving coordination at international, national and local levels. Read More
Understanding the impacts of hosting refugees is at the centre of crafting responses that minimize the costs and risks assumed by host countries and communities, maximize the protection available to refugees, and utilize resources efficiently and effectively. Since the early 1980s, there have been numerous efforts to measure the costs and benefits associated with hosting refugees. This paper summarizes some of this literature and highlights the lessons from these efforts. Read More
This paper explores the international refugee regime’s failure, despite significant international law and policy developed over the past 30 years, to meet the protection needs of refugee women and girls and to promote gender equality in policy and service provision. The authors propose ways to address structural and operational problems so that meaningful change can occur. Read More
Today, more than 60 percent of all refugees and 80 percent of all internally displaced persons are living in urban areas. This paper assesses the characteristics of the urban displacement crisis and identifies challenges and opportunities confronting cities, challenging myths associated with the “refugee burden” and offering preliminary recommendations for stepping up international, national and municipal cooperation. Read More
Many commentators have suggested that the displacement of people across international borders is caused by a lack of “political will,” and that refugee situations could be averted, mitigated or resolved if only such will existed. However, there has been little serious analysis as to what “political will” means and how to generate and sustain it in a refugee context. This paper is an initial attempt to address these neglected issues. Read More
Violent or oppressive regimes are responsible for much of the forced migration in the world today, and are often corrupt, stealing from their treasuries and placing the money and other assets offshore for the rulers' unlawful benefit. The jurisdictions where the assets are placed will frequently "freeze" or even seize them. Could these assets be used to help the refugees and internally displaced persons whose dislocation was caused by the regimes that stole them? This paper considers this question in the Canadian legal context. Read More
The refugee system lacks a formal accountability mechanism, which means there are virtually no costs to states for not complying with the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Nor is there a meaningful enforcing mechanism to ensure that states will share responsibility in situations of mass influx. This paper proposes three potential mechanisms based on accountability models in other global governance systems that could operationalize the norm of responsibility sharing. Read More
The World Refugee Council (WRC) was created to build on the momentum generated by UN meetings in New York in September 2016, which saw the unanimous adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, and to develop bold approaches to transform the current refugee system, focusing on the issues of accountability, responsibility sharing and governance, and finance. The WRC offers this interim report, and other discussion and research papers, to raise awareness of these issues and to stimulate ideas for reform that will transform lives. Read More