A Global Academic Network on Refugees: Some Unanswered Questions

Jeff Crisp

International Journal of Refugee Law, 2018



This article discusses the proposal in the Refugee Compact for a global academic network on forced displacement and statelessness “to facilitate research, training and scholarship opportunities which result in specific deliverables in support of the objectives of the global compact”. The author notes that the proposal is consistent with the compact’s intention to promote “evidence-based responses” based on “reliable, comparable, and timely data”. He commends its pluralistic approach and intention to “ensure regional diversity and expertise from a broad range of relevant subject areas” given that currently most refugee-related research is produced in the global North in a narrow disciplinary base. However, he raises several issues with the proposal: (a) the value added of the initiative is questionable given the field is already highly networked, and there is potential overlap with existing activities; (b) the stated purpose of producing ‘specific deliverables in support of the objectives of the global compact’ may be unappealing to researchers who have expressed skepticism of the compact; (c) UNHCR’s capacity to maintain a global academic network should be questioned given serious funding shortfalls and UNHCR’s previous experience in academic networking; and (d) research and analysis do not lead inevitably to effective policy. The author concludes that the proposal lacks clarity with respect to its purpose, added value, resource requirements, and management arrangements