Annals of the Fondazione Luigi Einaudi

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Economics, History and Political Science

The Annals is a forum for the free exchange of ideas
among scholars working in the field of social sciences
Volume LIV 1 - 2020

The Global Compact on Refugees: International Development in the Service of Refugee Protection and National Self-interest

Augusta Nannerini,
pp. 169-196
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In the context of the Global Refugee Forum (GRF) and other steps to implement the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), this paper considers the linkages between self-interests and normative values to plan initiatives that foster refugees’ self-reliance in the first country of their arrival. It highlights the role of EU-funded programs meant to support international development and it inquires into the consequent changes in the behavior of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It is based on desk research and semi-structured interviews that I conducted with personnel of the EU institutions, NGOs, INGOs and UNHCR in the period from October 2018 to May 2019. The paper contributes to the existing scholarship about the work of UNHCR by analyzing the increased normative responsibility in its relationship with the EU and the tension between the EU interests to implement the GCR in the internal and the external dimensions of its asylum and migration policies. The paper describes three changes that the engagement of development actors is bringing to the work of UNHCR: 1) a new understanding of time in refugee responses; 2) the creation of new partnerships and ways of cooperation under the UNHCR’s “multi-stakeholders approach”; and 3) the change in behavior of donors for international development and the consequent strengthened UNHCR-World Bank and UNHCR-EU partnerships. Between its interactions with new actors and the bargaining over states’ self-interests UNHCR will be called upon to represent and defend the normative values of the right to asylum.