World Refugee Council Research Paper Series

About the series

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.

In the Series

How should we respond to states that deliberately displace their own populations? Although rarely applied, four forms of complementary enforcement mechanisms already exist that could be used to limit and deter deliberate displacement by states. Generating political will to expand their use provides a direct way of ensuring that refugees and other forced migrants are better protected.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?