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The Financialization of International Refugee Protection: Examining the Implications of Refugee Financing - Dr Daria Davitti (Lund University)

  • Melbourne Law School, Room 920 185 Pelham Street Melbourne, Vic, 3053 Australia (map)

With the adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in 2015, the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants in 2016 and the Global Compact on Refugees in 2018, the international community has fully embraced, perhaps irrevocably, mechanisms of blended finance to address the challenges raised by people of the move.

This seminar traces the shift from international refugee protection to a model of externalized protection, which fundamentally prioritizes the identification of ‘pragmatic’ solutions in countries geographically adjacent to a refugee’s country of origin.

This seminar examines, how, strategically, this means that countries in the Global South are seen as the primary source of refugee protection, and that protection measures are reoriented towards an increased openness towards, and dependence on, private non-state actors, which are now seen as key enablers and co-providers of ‘protection’.

This seminar further examines, how, at a time of increased nationalism and closed borders, this turn shapes not only the conceptualization of international refugee protection itself, but also of the way in which protection measures are funded, primarily through development funds aimed at creating an enabling environment for investors. Within these frameworks, refugees and migrants become customers, whose resilience and adaptation need strengthening and optimizing.

This seminar will present some conclusions on the legal and governance implications of this externalization and financialization of international protection, both in terms of reshaping the legal subjectivity of the refugee in international law and the normative nature of international protection, now that investors, rather than states, acquire a central role in operationalizing protection.

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Dr Daria Davitti is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Lund University, Faculty of Law, and an Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham, where she heads the Forced Migration Unit of the Human Rights Law Centre. Her work is concerned with the implementation of international law in complex contexts, such as situations of armed conflict, migration and humanitarian contexts. Her current research project, Liquid Borders, examines EU migration policies to interrogate how they contribute to the ‘liquidity’ of the EU border, for instance through externalization, privatization, cooperation with third countries, and development aid. Daria holds a PhD and an LLM in international human rights law from the University of Nottingham. Before joining academia, Daria worked as a human rights field officer with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), and with various international non-governmental organizations. During her visit with the Laureate Program, Daria will consolidate the philosophical and theoretical framework underpinning her Liquid Borders project.