The modern refugee regime lacks a clearly defined system of governance: individual states are responsible for implementing the regime’s norms within their own territories and jurisdictions, while decisions taken in parallel policy fields, such as security, development and migration, have a considerable impact on the regime’s functioning. Further, governance of the regime has often been conflated with governance of the regime’s primary organization, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Important forms of coordination, dialogue and political engagement, all necessary for facilitating international cooperation and realizing the regime’s core objectives of protection and solutions for refugees, are challenged by these issues. The authors propose a model for enhanced governance of the regime that could contribute to improved protection and solutions for refugees and to more predictability for states and the international system.

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Research papers are policy documents commissioned by the World Refugee Council from world-renowned experts to help inform the work of the Council and its final recommendations. The measures and concepts in these documents do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Refugee Council.
  • Alexander Betts is professor of forced migration and international affairs, and director of the Refugee Studies Centre, at the University of Oxford. His research focuses mainly on the political economy of refugee assistance, and he has also written on migration and humanitarianism.

  • James Milner is a CIGI senior fellow who focuses on refugees, peacebuilding, African politics and the United Nations system.