Published April 25, 2022 | Version v1
Working paper Open

A Comparative Research Framework for Studying the Global Refugee Compact's Impact on International Protection

  • 1. Department of Comparative Politics, University of Bergen


New policy initiatives to handle migratory movements and refugee inflows have emerged in various forms. The initiatives came from the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), and the affected states. The most important of these are the UN’s Global Compact on Migration (GCM), Global Compact on Refugees (GPCS), the European Union’s (EU) latest reform attempt about its Common European Asylum Policy (CEAS), and the European Commission’s (EC) recent proposal on a New Pact on Migration and Asylum (the New Pact). The initiatives combine old and new policies. A noteworthy norm that is reinvigorated by both the UN and the EU is international solidarity. This is coupled with a governance mode based on the UN’s multi-stakeholder perspective. However, the UN remains strategically silent about how solidarity is to be governed on regional and national levels. Similarly, the EU’s “flexible and mandatory solidarity” is accompanied by a “human and humane” discourse and a supranationally coordinated governance mechanism. The EU too is silent about the governance modes needed at the member state level. Nevertheless, if successfully implemented, the new global and European policy initiatives may lead to significant changes in international protection. The intensions are good, but the consequences are not known.  

In addition to much support to these initiatives, there are also signs that states may attempt to instrumentalize the GCR to install their own approaches to international protection as a global norm. This includes not only progressive approaches, but also the perspective that international protection should not be the responsibility of the international community.

Hence, the success of the GCR, the New Pact, and other policy initiatives does not only rely on states or stakeholders’ involvement in their implementation, but also on the norms, governance modes, and discourses they deploy when they participate in the implementation processes. Since the UN’s and the EU’s purpose is to introduce human rights-based approaches to international protection, this may involve abandoning their silence regarding their members’ ways of implementing the GCR.

This paper endeavors to construct a comparative research framework to devise groundbreaking normative, governance, and discursive frames that can be used to advance a human rights-based international protection system. In this framework, the GCM is included as a contextual factor. The results can be used by the UN, the EU, and other regional inter-state unions for advising new policies to their member states and other stakeholders.  They can also be used by states and other stakeholders to reform, enhance, or adapt their policies to new conditions, including crises.  


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European Commission