Research

Designing an Accountability Mechanism for a Reimagined Refugee Regime

Producing (or revising) a more functional and responsive refugee regime is the primary goal of a global refugee compact. An accountability mechanism would be a valuable supplement to this project. As discussed below, the international refugee regime currently lacks any formal mechanism. This means that there is no formal mechanism for assessing treaty compliance by States party, no means of ensuring adherence to human rights norms by countries of first asylum, no oversight on the functionality of refugee status determination procedures by the UNHCR or by states, no audit of the efficiency of humanitarian operations, no means of holding states that fund UNHCR to their annual pledges. Accountability is directed at ensuring that the system (and the various actors within it) is doing what it was devised to do. An effective accountability mechanism also generates information that can facilitate incremental adjustments and improvements. Accountability mechanisms that are transparent can also enhance legitimacy in the eyes of stakeholders and wider publics. Ordinarily, an accountability framework takes its shape from the governance model to which it applies. For present purposes we will set out broad contours and, where necessary, use a hypothetical model for illustration.

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