Academic journal article Global Governance

Funding the International Refugee Regime: Implications for Protection

Academic journal article Global Governance

Funding the International Refugee Regime: Implications for Protection

Article excerpt

Despite the abundance of literature on international regimes, little attention has been given to how they are funded and the impact of funding on regime performance. This article examines how donor funding has affected the underlying principle of protection in the international refugee regime. It focuses on the case of Tanzania, where refugee protection standards have declined consistently over the past twelve years, and argues that a shortage of funding within the regime has contributed to the shift in government policy in several ways. To the extent that funding cuts have had an influence on declining protection standards, this case suggests that resource shortages may cause practice within an international regime to become inconsistent with its underlying principles, thus weakening the overall regime. KEYWORDS: international regimes, refugees, funding, compliance, Africa.

For years, international relations scholars have been seeking to understand the formation and effectiveness of international regimes. (1) Most studies have focused on how regimes are created, the reasons for co-operation, and the extent to which regimes influence state behavior. (2) Realists argue that international regimes are reflections of state interests and power. They form when the interests of powerful states converge, and they change when those interests change or the distribution of power is altered. They have no independent effect on state behavior. Functionalists see regimes as a response to perceived needs. The uncertainty associated with unregulated patterns of behavior leads to a demand for international regimes, which are supplied by willing states. As long as they continue to be effective, regimes put structural constraints on state action. Constructivists focus on the importance of ideas in the creation and perpetuation of regimes. Through their control of information and decision making processes, regimes create knowledge and socialize participants, thus independently influencing state behavior.

Despite the abundance of literature on international regimes, surprisingly little attention has been given to how they are funded and the impact of funding on regime performance. (3) Funding can provide an incentive for member states to comply with an international regime. In the environmental sector, for example, China's ratification of and subsequent compliance with the Montreal Protocol was driven largely by its access to the Multilateral Fund, established to implement the protocol. (4) The sources of funding within a regime can influence the way in which it functions. One study found that supplementary financiers of agreements negotiated by the International Monetary Fund influenced the conditions placed on those agreements. (5) Similarly, donor governments can use their contributions to an international regime to force changes in its operations. In 1994, the US Congress withheld $1 billion from the World Bank until it adopted sweeping environmental reforms. (6) And, in some situations, competition for funding among actors within a regime can lead to inefficient and less-than-optimal outcomes. The struggle among international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in eastern Congo, for example, undermined their collective ability to protest the misuse of refugee assistance. (7)

This article examines the impact of funding levels on regime effectiveness, defined as member state compliance with the regime's underlying principles. It focuses on the international refugee regime, which is highly dependent on external funding, and its principle of refugee protection. Member state compliance with this regime can be understood by looking at standards of refugee protection in individual host countries. In Tanzania, recent changes in government policy reflect a consistent decline in protection standards for refugees over the past twelve years. As I explain in subsequent sections, a shortage of funding within the international refugee regime has contributed to the shift in Tanzanian policy in several ways. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.