Institute of Development Policy

Voices from Abroad 2020 (28-29/04/20)

Voices from abroad 2020

CANCELLED! Given the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, we have no choice but to cancel the Voice from Abroad event.

This year IOB and CeMIS are happy to welcome Prof. dr. Alexander Betts, Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs (University of Oxford).

Sustainable Sanctuaries? Refugee Assistance in an Age of Displacement

April 28th, 17-19h: public lecture | Promotiezaal, building S, Lange St Annastraat 7, Antwerpen

We live in an age of displacement. In the context of chronic state fragility, more people are refugees or internally displaced than at any time since the Second World War, and the challenge is likely to worsen as climate change makes whole areas uninhabitable and exacerbates other drivers of displacement. In parallel, however, we see rising populism and anti-immigration sentiment across the rich world. And many of the underlying trends behind this -- the loss of labour-intensive manufacturing jobs to automation and offshoring, the rise of multi-polarity and the relative decline of the West, and austerity policies that cut public services for citizens – are unlikely to abate. But it is not just Europe, the United States and Australia where there is increasing hostility towards refugees, but also many host countries in the developing world. With rising numbers, increasingly restrictive politics, and the geographical concentration of refugees in some of the poorest parts of the world, we face the collective challenge of how to create sustainable refugee policies. How can we create sustainable sanctuaries that reconcile rights, politics, and scale? What can the evidence, and social science teach us about effective and sustainable solutions for an age of displacement? The lecture will draw upon ethics, economics, politics, and public policy, as well as extensive fieldwork (including original data following the socio-economic lives of 15,000 refugees and host community members) in cities and camps in East Africa to identify practical solutions. 

Bargains of Inclusion: Why Do Some Countries Allow Refugees to Work? 

April 29th, 10-12h: seminar | Willem Elsschot zaal, Hof van Liere, Prinsstraat 13, 2000 Antwerpen

The majority of refugees are in low and middle income countries. In most of these contexts, refugees are denied basic socio-economic rights such as the right to work and freedom of movement. And yet, the right to work, in particular, has been associated with better economic outcomes for both refugees and host communities, as well as better psycho-social outcomes for refugees.

Why do some states give refugees the right to work, while others do not? Explaining variation matters because it offers an opportunity to identify the policy mechanisms through which changes in legislation, policy, and practice can occur. In this context, this paper adopts a mixed methods approach to explain variation in why some refugee-hosting countries allow refugees to work, and others do not. The paper combines an original theoretical framework with qualitative fieldwork in Uganda, Ethiopia, and Kenya, with quantitative analysis of an original dataset on the politics of refugees' socio-economic rights. The paper highlights the types of causal mechanisms and policy processes that are likely to lead to the 'de facto' and 'de jure' right to work for refugees. 


Alexander Betts is Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs, William Golding Senior Fellow in Politics at Brasenose College, and Associate Head of the Social Sciences Division at the University of Oxford. He was Director of the Refugee Studies Centre between 2014 and 2017. His research focuses mainly on refugee assistance, with a focus on Africa.  In addition to his ten other books, he is co-author, with Paul Collier, of Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System (Penguin Allen Lane and Oxford University Press, 2017), which was named by the Economist as one of the 'Best Books of 2017'.  He is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, a European Young Leader (EYL40), was named by Foreign Policy magazine in the top 100 global thinkers of 2016, and his TED talks have been viewed by over 3 million people. He has written for the New York Times, the Guardian, and Foreign Affairs. He has previously worked for UNHCR and has served as a Councillor on the World Refugee Council.  He currently leads the IKEA Foundation-funded Refugee Economies Programme, which undertakes participatory research based on a longitudinal study following the economic lives of 15,000 refugees and host community members in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda. He received his MPhil (with distinction) and DPhil from the University of Oxford. 


Registration is free but mandatory. Please register here. Deadline to register is Wednesday 22 April 2020.