The Refugee Regime and Issue-Linkage

  • Alexander Betts


Regimes are commonly defined as being issue-area specific. By definition, they are “principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures that govern state behaviour in specific issue-areas..”1 Indeed, political science and international relations tend to look at issue-areas and regimes in compartmentalized ways, without looking at the interconnections that exist across regimes and issue-areas. In practice, though, a regime in one issue-area may constrain or constitute the politics of another issue-area or, alternatively, the politics of one issue-area may influence a regime in another issue-area. In an increasingly complex world of globalization and growing institutional proliferation, there are ever greater material, ideational, and institutional interconnections across issue-areas and regimes. Examining the case of the global refugee regime illustrates the importance of understanding interconnections across issue-areas and regimes for understanding the politics of human mobility.


International Cooperation Asylum Seeker Northern State Regime Complex Forum Shopping 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Andreas Hasenclever, Peter Mayer, and Volker Rittberger, Theories of International Regimes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997): 1; Stephen Krasner, ed. International Regimes (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983): 2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Gil Loescher, Alexander Betts, and James Milner, UNHCR: The Politics and Practice of Refugee Protection into the Twenty-First Century (London: Routledge, 2008); Gil Loescher, UNHCR and World Politics: The Perilous Path (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Alexander Betts, “North-South Cooperation in the Refugee Regime: The Role of Linkages,” Global Governance, 14, no. 2 (April-June, 2008): 157–178; Alexander Betts, “Institutional Proliferation and the Global Refugee Regime,” Perspectives on Politics, 7 (March, 2009b): 53–58.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Alexander Betts, A Protection by Persuasion: International Cooperation in the Refugee Regime (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009a); Betts, “Institutional Proliferation.”Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Vinod Aggarwal, “Reconciling Institutions: Nested, Horizontal, Overlapping, and Independent Institutions” (paper presented at workshop on Nested and Overlapping Institutions, Princeton, February 24, 2006); Karen Alter and Sophie Meunier, “The International Politics of Regime Complexity,” Perspectives on Politics, 7, no. 1 (March, 2009): 13–24; Kal Raustiala and David Victor, “The Regime Complex for Plant Genetic Resources,” International Organization, 58, no. 2 (2004): 277–309.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Betts, “Institutional Proliferation”;Laurence Helfer, “Regime Shifting: The TRIPS Agreement and the New Dynamics of International Intellectual Property Making,” Yale Journal of International Law, 29 (2004): 1–81.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Ken Abbott and Duncan Snidal, “Why States Act through Formal International Organizations,” in The Politics of Global Governance, ed. Paul Diehl (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2001); Mark Busch, “Overlapping Institutions, Forum Shopping, and Dispute Settlement in International Trade,” International Organization, 61, no. 4 (2007): 735–761; Emilie Hafner-Burton, “Forum Shopping for Human Rights: The Transformation of Preferential Trade” (paper read at American Political Science Association Conference, Washington, D.C., September 1–4, 2004).Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    Vinod Aggarwal, “Reconciling Multiple Institutions: Bargaining, Linkages, and Nesting,” in Institutional Designs for a Complex World, ed. Vinod Aggarwal (Cornell: Cornell University Press, 1988); Ernst Haas, When Power Is Knowledge: Three Models of Change in International Organizations (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1990); Robert Keohane, “The Demand for International Regimes,” International Organization, 36, no. 2 (1982): 332–355; Lisa Martin, “The Rational State Choice of Multilateralism,” in Multilateralism Matters: The Theory and Praxis of an Institutional Form, ed. John Ruggie (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), 91–121; Martin McGinnis, “Issue-Linkage and the Evolution of International Cooperation,” Journal of Conflict Resolution, 30, no. 1 (1986): 141–170; Arthur Stein, “The Politics of Linkage,” World Politics, 33, no. 1 (1980): 62–81; Oran Young, “Institutional Linkages in International Society,” Global Governance, 2 (1996): 1–23.Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    Jagdish Bhagwati, “Introduction,” in Power, Passions and Purpose: Prospects for North-South Negotiations, ed. Jagdish Bhagwati and John Ruggie (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984); John Ravenhill, “The North-South Balance of Power,” International Affairs, 66, no. 4 (1990).Google Scholar
  10. 13.
    Ernst Haas, “Why Collaborate? Issue-Linkages and International Regimes,” in International Organization: A Reader, ed. F. Kratochwil, and E. Mansfield (New York: HarperCollins, 1994 [1980]); Haas, When Power Is Knowledge.Google Scholar
  11. 15.
    Helfer, “Regime Shifting”; Alexander Betts, “Institutional Proliferation and the Global Refugee Regime,” Perspectives on Politics, 7, no. 1 (March, 2009): 53–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 18.
    Claudena Skran, Refugees in Inter-war Europe: The Emergence of a Regime (Clarendon: Oxford University Press, 1995).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 20.
    For an overview of the content of refugee protection see, for example, G. Goodwin-Gill, and J. McAdam, The Refugee in International Law (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2007) and E. Feller, V. Turk, and F. Nicholson, eds., Refugee Protection in International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001). For an overview of the durable solutions see UNHCR 2006, chapter 6.Google Scholar
  14. 21.
    Nonrefoulement is widely argued to be part of customary international law. Elie Lauterpacht and David Bethlehem, “The Scope and Content of the Principle of Non-refoulement,” in Refugee Protection in International Law, ed. Erika Feller, Volker Turk, and Frances Nicholson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001); Allain J. Allain, “The Jus Cogens Nature of Non-Refoulement,” International Journal of Refugee Law, 13, no. 4 (2001): 533–558.Google Scholar
  15. 22.
    For an overview of the limited norms relating to burden-sharing see, for example, James Milner, Refugees, the State and the Politics of Asylum in Africa (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 23.
    For an analysis of this broader question see, for example, Harold Koh, “Why Do States Obey International Law?” Yale Law Journal, 106, no. 8 (1997): 2599–2659; Kal Raustiala and Anne-Marie Slaughter, “International Law, International Relations and Compliance,” in Handbook of International Relations, eds. Walter Carlsnaes, Thomas Risse, and Beth Simmons (London: Sage Publications, 2002): 538–558.; Chris Reus-Smit ed., The Politics of International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).Google Scholar
  17. 24.
    For a distinction between cooperation within a regime and ad hoc bargaining, see, for example, Keohane, “The Demand for”; James Fearon, “Bargaining, Enforcement, and International Cooperation,” International Organization, 52, no. 2 (1998): 269–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 27.
    Garrit Gong, The Standard of “Civilization” in International Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press,1984); Edward Keene, Beyond the Anarchical Society: Grotius, Colonialism and Order in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).Google Scholar
  19. 28.
    Andrew Hurrell, On Global Order: Power, Values and the Constitution of International Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 36.
    Brian Gorlick, “Human Rights and Refugees: Enhancing Protection through International Human Rights Law,” New Issues in Refugee Research (Working Paper no. 30, UNHCR: Geneva, 2000); Jane McAdam, Complementary Protection in International Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). For example, in the cases of Tapia Paez v Sweden at the Committee against Torture and Chahal v UK at the ECtHR, the states against which the cases were brought were prevented from deporting asylum seekers excluded from refugee status under the exclusion clauses of the 1951 Convention, if they were likely to face torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment upon return. Tapia Paez v Sweden, CAT, Communication No. 39/1996; Chahal v United Kingdom (22414/93) [1996] ECHR 54 November 15, 1996).Google Scholar
  21. 38.
    Thomas Weiss, and David Korn, Internal Displacement: Conceptualization and Its Consequences (London: Routledge, 2006); Caroline Phuong, The International Protection of Internally Displaced Persons (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).Google Scholar
  22. 39.
    Cecile Dubernet, The International Containment of Displaced Persons: Human Spaces without Exit (Aldershot, UK: Zed Books, 2003); M. Barutciski, “The Reinforcement of Non-Admission Policies and the Subversion of UNHCR: Displacement and Internal Assistance in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1992–94),” International Journal of Refugee Law, 8, no. 1–2 (1996): 49–110.Google Scholar
  23. 41.
    UNHCR, “Rethinking Durable Solutions,” in The State of the World’s Refugees (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), chapter 6.Google Scholar
  24. 42.
    Betts, “North-South Cooperation”; Ryszard Cholewinski et al., International Migration Law: Developing Paradigms and Key Challenges (T.M.C. Asser: The Hague, 2007); Jeff Crisp, “Beyond the Nexus: UNHCR’s Evolving Perspective on Refugee Protection and International Migration,” New Issues in Refugee Research (Working Paper no. 155 UNHCR, Geneva, 2008).Google Scholar
  25. 43.
    Anna Lindley, “The Early Morning Phone Call: Remittances from a Refugee Diaspora Perspective,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 35, no. 8 (2009): 1315–1333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 44.
    Alexander Betts and James Milner, “The Externahsation of EU Asylum Policy: The Position of African States” (Working Papers no 06-36, COMPAS, 2006).Google Scholar
  27. 46.
    Swiss Forum on Migration, “The Decision Making of Somali Irregular Migrants to Europe” (SFM: Neuchatel, 2005).Google Scholar
  28. 47.
    Alexander Betts and J-F Durieux, “Convention Plus as a Norm-Setting Exercise,” Journal of Refugee Studies, 20, no. 1 (2007): 509–535; J-F Durieux and N. Kelley, “UNHCR and Current Challenges in International Refugee Protection,” Refuge, 22, no.1 (2004): 6–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Rey Koslowski 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander Betts

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations