Alex Aleinikoff on Displaced: Creating a New Refugee Regime
Former United Nations Deputy High Commissioner on Refugees Alex Aleinikoff remains optimistic about prospects for a solution to the refugee crisis. “The numbers are very large, and the times that people stay in exile has gone up dramatically,” he tells Displaced hosts Grant Gordon and Ravi Gurumurthy on this week’s episode. “On the other hand, in a world of seven billion people, 20 million refugees…and 40 million internally displaced people…are entirely manageable numbers. We need to talk about the huge needs of the people who have fled. But at the same time, if the world got together and really wanted to do something…this would be solved.”
The lynchpin to any durable solution to the refugee crisis is creating mechanisms for states to equitably share the burden of caring for and resettling refugees. Perhaps not surprisingly, this discussion looks a lot like negotiations on how to distribute responsibility for another global ill: Climate change. Some have proposed a cap-and-trade system on refugees; others have put forward formulas that would take into account a state’s historical acceptance of refugees, ability to resettle new refugees, or share of blame in creating a refugee crisis when determining refugee allocations.
In this episode, Aleinikoff shares why he thinks those proposals are quixotic, and describes an alternative solution to spur states to work together on refugees. And we dissect some of the arguments in Aleinikoff’s forthcoming book, The Arc of Protection: Toward a New International Refugee Regime, including how the context in which UNHCR was created has shaped how it responds to refugees, whether to expand the formal definition of refugee to include all forced migrants, and why one of the most promising and innovative solutions to the refugee crisis is to boost refugees’ mobility by enabling them to travel outside countries of first asylum.
Read some of the sources that informed this episode of Displaced:
- Aleinikoff, Alex. “Some Thoughts on the GCR (and the GCM).” Forced Migration Forum. February 29, 2018.
- Casoer, Gerhard and Stephen D. Krasner. “On Citizenship.” Review of Beyond Citizenship: American Identity After Globalization by Peter J. Spiro. American Interest. January 1, 2009.
- Collier, Paul and Alexander Betts. “Why denying refugees the right to work is a catastrophic error.” The Guardian. March 22, 2017.
- Crawley, Heaven. “Migration: Refugee Economics.” Review of Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System, by Alexander Betts and Paul Collier. Nature 544. April 6, 2017.
- Evans, William B. and Daniel Fitzgerald. The Economic and Social Outcomes of Refugees in the United States: Evidence from the ACS. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper №23498. June 2017.
- Gough, Kate. “The Global Compact on Migration is Now Being Negotiated. Here are Three Sticking Points.” Center for Global Development. February 20, 2018.
- Hathaway, James C. “A global solution to a global refugee crisis.” Open Global Rights. February 29, 2016.
- Hathaway, James C. and R. Alexander Neve. Making International Refugee Law Relevant Again: A Proposal for Collectivized and Solution-Oriented Protection. Harvard Human Rights Journal 10 (1997). Open-source.
- Hathaway, James C. and Thomas Gammeltoft-Hanses. Non-Refoulement in a World of Cooperative Deterrence. Columbia Journal of Transnational Law. 53:2 (2015).
- Huang, Cindy and Kate Gough. “Flexible and Innovative Financing for Refugee Crises and Other 21st Century Challenges.” Center for Global Development. April 26, 2018.
- Hyndman, Jennifer, William Payne and Shauna Jimenez. Private Refugee Sponsorship in Canada. Forced Migration Review 54 (2017).
- Milner, James. Rediscovering a winning formula for refugee protection. Open Democracy. March 3, 2016.
- Kantor, Jodi and Catrin Einhorn. Refugees Encounter a Foreign Word: Welcome. The New York Times. June 30, 2016.
- Mandal, Ruma. The Global Compact on Refugees Offers an Opportunity to Revive Responsibility Sharing. Chatham House. March 1, 2018.
- Mazou, Raouf. Somali Refugee Crisis: A Regional Approach to Foster Durable Solutions. Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. July 13, 2017.
- Organization of African Unity. Convention Governing Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa. Adopted 10 September 1969.
- Schuck, Peter. Refugee Burden-Sharing: A Modest Proposal. Yale Journal of International Law 22:2 (1997).
- Schuettler, Kirsten. “A New Algorithm to Increase Refugee Employment Through Smarter Placement.” Forced Migration Forum. February 21, 2018.
- Sengupta, Somini. “Migrant or Refugee? There Is a Difference, With Legal Implications.” The New York Times. August 27, 2015.
- Sengupta, Somini. Climate Change is Driving People from Home. So Why Don’t They Count as Refugees? The New York Times. December 21, 2017.
- United Nations General Assembly. 71/1. New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. Seventy-first session. Adopted September 19, 2016.
- United Nations General Assembly. Global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration: Draft Rev 1. March 26, 2018.
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The global compact on refugees: Draft 1. March 9, 2018.