Searching for Solutions: Lessons and Warnings from Refugee Situations

International Workshop, 15-16 August 2022, Duisburg

This author's workshop discussed research on durable solutions for refugee situations. The theme aligns well with the Centre’s priorities in examining ideas and practices of world-ordering in global cooperation. By critically unpacking national and regional responses to refugee influxes, participants aimed to gain a 'better understanding of how different and often contested conceptions of world order shape, change, or obstruct global cooperation.' Encouraging a diversity of approaches and theoretical frameworks the workshop panels were to question the measures host countries have adopted, which are not covered a durable solutions framework, the regional variations and patterns, that can be identified, as well as the very concept of a ‘durable solution’. The discussions that the workshop generated were also related to the Centre’s Migration policy field ('Global governance of migration'), and its priorities in critical examinations of the 1951 Refugee Convention and of the relationship between global regime norms and Westphalian state sovereignty.

The idea to explore South-South refugee flows and cross-country, cross-regional examinations came out of conversations that the conveners have been having about the three durable solutions proposed by the UNHCR: voluntary repatriation, local integration, and third-country resettlement.  It has now been seventy years since the Refugee Convention was established. In this period, the international community has had limited success in making these durable solutions a reality for refugees. The proposed meeting is also an extension of an earlier workshop on governing refugee returns, convened by Associate Fellows Zeynep Sahin Mencutek and Tamirace Fakhoury, in November 2020, which resulted in publications in the journal, Geopolitics.

The workshop encouraged a comparative and cross-temporal approach. What has been the relative success of each of the durable solutions conceived of by the refugee regime? What are some other responses, not covered by the durable solutions framework, that host countries have adopted? What are some regional variations or patters in developing solutions? These are some of the questions that this workshop seeked to answer. Since the starting point of the analysis will be the UN Refugee Convention of 1951; the invited papers focused on cases emerging during and after the 1950s.

The Centre provided for a fruitful platform for the workshop participants to collaborate on the special issue of a journal.

A follow-up report will be published soon.