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Understanding Power and Influence in the Global Refugee Regime

November 13, 2015 at 12:00 PM

Location:2420 Richcraft Hall

The Global and International Studies Program would like to announce our first Faculty Works-in-Progress speaker, Dr. James Milner, whose paper “Understanding Power and Influence in the Global Refugee Regime” will be presented on Friday, November 13th at 12pm in Room 2420 R River Building.

All papers will be pre-circulated two weeks in advance of each paper presentation. Please register in advance using this link in order to receive copies of discussion papers.

In the aftermath of World War II, states formalized a global refugee regime. At the core of this regime were norms, including the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and institutions, especially the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This regime was created to perform two core responsibilities: to help ensure the protection of refugees and to find a timely solution to their plight.

More than 60 years later, however, it is evident that the global refugee regime has not been able to predictably fulfil these two core functions. Today’s headlines tell stories of refugees engaging in perilous journeys across sea and land to seek asylum, and the very limited protection they receive from many host states. More generally, however, refugees are now spending longer in exile than ever before. In the early 1990s, it took on average 9 years to resolve a refugee situation. Today, that average is closer to 20 years.

Understanding the politics and shortcomings of the global refugee regime has been a sustained area of research in the interdisciplinary field of refugee studies for more than two decades, yet we know surprisingly little about how different actors influence the regime. While a range of actors seek influence, how do we understand the factors that determine their ability to influence the regime? Who has influence? When? Under what circumstances? What are the mechanisms of influence? And how can different actors influence both the decisions made at the global level and the ability to influence these decisions at the local level?