World Refugee Council Discussion Paper Series

About the series

Discussion papers are thought-provoking pieces intended to stimulate thought and discussion among political leaders, refugee experts, academics and civil society actors to help generate ideas and solutions for the global refugee system. The measures and concepts in these documents do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Refugee Council.

In the Series

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.
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.
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.