Political Economy

What shapes national and local policies on economic inclusion?

The economic inclusion of refugees is shaped by politics. Host and donor states’ commitment to assist, protect and provide solutions for refugees are all shaped by whether and to what extent they perceive refugees to be a burden or a benefit in relation to security and development outcomes, for example.  And yet international humanitarian organizations have sometimes faced mandate constraints in their ability and willingness to understand and engage with this politics.

In relation to power: which actors matter for influencing and shaping particular outcomes? In relation to interests: what motivates or determines the tactical or strategic choices they make? Being able to answer these questions 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 these macro-level variables. Nor is it exclusively the outcome of 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 gatekeepers. It also relies upon looking critically at the role played by a range of outside actors, including businesses, donors, and diasporic networks.