Here’s a link to a report I wrote for the Overseas Development Institute (with co-authors Jessica Hagen-Zanker, Elisa Vidal and Amelia Kuch) on the importance of migrants’ access to citizenship in securing the 2030 SDG Agenda.
Here’s a report I wrote with Sarah Rosengaertner for the Migration Policy Institute, first published in October 2016
The limitations of the current refugee protection system have become painfully evident as the number of refugees and displaced persons passed 65 million by the end of 2015. With little hope of establishing stable lives in first-asylum countries, being resettled, or returning to their countries of origin, many refugees opt to move onward in search of their own solutions, undertaking dangerous journeys to Europe, North America, and elsewhere.
These journeys are often done via informal and irregular channels. But increasing attention is being paid to the role that legal work and study migration channels could play in the international response, potentially helping to relieve the unequal burden on countries of first asylum, connecting refugees with meaningful opportunities to earn a living and regain stability, and supporting their integration into host societies.
This report discusses the steps that policymakers can take to open legal mobility and migration opportunities within existing labor and study channels for refugees, while considering the practical and political barriers to such efforts. The authors make clear that such channels will need to operate as a complement to the traditional protection system, in part because only a relatively small share of refugees stand to benefit from gaining access to existing human-capital migration channels.
Refugee protection—both asylum in the country of first refuge and resettlement to a third country—is a humanitarian endeavor, distinct from economic or labor migration. As victims of persecution, under international law refugees are entitled to specific protections, above all from forcible return, and the humanitarian nature of refugee protection is fundamental. However, what is less clear is the degree to which the right to move freely both within and beyond a country of first asylum can or should be encompassed within the international community’s understanding of what refugee protection involves.
Over the years, there has been growing international recognition that continued movement and migration often play an important role in shaping refugees’ lives after their initial flight, even without the formal legal channels to do so. The economic restrictions placed on refugees in many countries—including prohibitions on the right to work and limitations on movement away from camps—lead many individuals to pursue irregular secondary migration after being granted refugee status, in search of economic opportunity and sometimes even basic physical security. In light of this reality, pursuing labor mobility policies for refugees may make sense for both political and humanitarian reasons, offering the chance to enhance refugee protection while reducing the many costs associated with long-term refugee crises.
This report considers the extent to which labor migration is being used—or could be used in the future—to strengthen the international refugee protection regime and facilitate durable solutions for more refugees. The report also outlines two possible ways that policymakers could facilitate refugees’ freedom of movement: initiatives that take advantage of existing migration pathways and regional freedom-of-movement protocols, and development of temporary and permanent refugee-focused labor migration programs.
This policy overview was prepared as part of an RSC’s joint research and policy project on ‘Unlocking crises of protracted displacement for refugees and internally displaced persons’ with the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, the Norwegian Refugee Council and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. This paper considers how international actors should frame protracted displacements and the search for ‘solutions’ to such crises. It draws on the findings of three case studies (Central America during the 1980s and 1990s and contemporary displacements in Somalia and Iraq) as well as wider research on protracted refugee situations and the politics of refugee ‘solutions’.
The paper suggests a number of innovative strategies which might better match international policy to the needs of those trapped in protracted displacement. Based on the evidence assessed, the paper concludes that ensuring the quality of asylum, opening up migration routes and adopting a more flexible approach to residency and citizenship rights are all key to unlocking protracted displacements.
This project was generously supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.