Why do governments provide socio-economic rights to refugees?
The economic inclusion of refugees is shaped by politics. In this research, we try to understand that politics; to explain why some countries adopt relatively more liberal or restrictive policies towards refugees’ right to work and other related socio-economic rights. We are particularly interested in the role that power and interests play across international, national, and local levels in shaping both de jure and de facto socio-economic rights for refugees. We aim to use those insights to inform more strategic policy-making and advocacy by international organisations.
What power relations, interests, and ideas shape the socio-economic entitlements and opportunities that are available to refugees?
Being able to answer this question matters for policy-makers. If we know which key gatekeepers and veto players are shaping agenda-setting, negotiation, and implementation of policy choices, we in turn have the means to influence outcomes.
Refugee politics, however, is not deterministically shaped by what happens in capital cities. Looking at politics in Nairobi, Ankara, or Bangkok will only tell you so much about the politics of host states. Although increasingly urban, refugee-hosting often takes place in geographically remote areas, close to international borders. Consequently, it frequently implicates a range of sub-national actors and structures. Refugee politics is ‘local’ politics; regional, district, and municipal authorities are often key actors. Understanding that politics also relies upon looking critically at the role played by a range of outside actors, including businesses, donors, and diasporic networks.
Our research in this area divides into two strands: work in the Middle East focusing on the local politics of the Syrian refugee crisis (funded by the Swiss FDFA) and work in East Africa focusing on the political economy of socio-economic rights (funded by the British Academy).