Reforming the Refugee Regime

This project analyses current efforts to reform the refugee regime, applying an inter-disciplinary perspective linking international law, political science and economics.

The current refugee protection crisis is not only affecting Western asylum systems, but also severely straining protection capacity in developing countries, currently hosting more than 80% of the world’s displaces persons. Scholars and practitioners almost universally recommend increased international burden-sharing as the only sustainable and rational response: without burden-sharing, the most heavily affected states are likely to bow under the pressure, creating a domino effect and leaving a much larger burden for remaining states. Yet, so far few states have heeded this advice. Burden-sharing remains the exception rather than the rule. Even in the EU, the region where asylum cooperation is most advanced, Member States struggle to agree on a more equitable distribution of asylum seekers.

This project applies an inter-disciplinary approach based on practice theory and new legal realism, bringing recent theoretical advances in economics, sociology and International Relations to the study of international refugee law. It asks: which factors shape commitment to international law and burden-sharing in regard to refugee protection? Based on the research findings, the project secondly analyses current and historical proposals to reform the refugee regime to assess their viability from a legal,  economic and political perspective. As an added value, the project finally advances specific policy proposals in cooperation with relevant stakeholders.

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