Transforming Refugee Management in the Context of Sustainable International Development
The increasing mobility of refugees due to conflict, persecution or other generalized violence has become a phenomenon worldwide. Both states and the Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have faced challenges in managing refugees sustainably. This research is intended to analyze the limitation of states in the EU and ASEAN region as well as the UNHCR challenges in managing refugees. The methodology used is a quantitative study through a statistical descriptive analysis from secondary sources and literature reviews. The results show that states are reluctant to receive new refugees since they could harm the state’s sovereignty. Besides, the UNHCR has also faced a challenge by not being able to resettle more refugees to third countries due to the reduction of quotas of resettlement. Since refugee is a complex issue involving not only states and UNHCR, partnership with the international organization including private sectors is required to provide alternative solutions, particularly through a partnership with TNCs. The role of TNCs would be essential since they have supply chains across the globe for market expansion and capacity building for refugees through the reallocation of the CSR programs. The SDGs have also acknowledged partnership to become a specific goal of 17 to be achieved in 2030, along with other global initiatives. It concludes that TNCs could play a role in refugee management by providing skill enhancement for refugees through CSR programs to enter labor opportunities in the future.
Keywords: PartnershipSDGsUNHCRTNCsrefugee management
The increasing number of refugee populations has become a phenomenon globally in which states and UNHCR face difficulties in responses to the challenges. As shown in Table
Moreover, the management of refugees by states mostly focused on the security issue and border tightening particularly in the European Union (EU) Countries who have ratified their Convention on Refugees in 1951 which makes it difficult for refugees to enter the countries. A similar condition is also practiced by countries in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region, although most of those countries are not part of the Signatory of Refugee Convention in 1951 and its Protocol in 1967. The management of refugees is then carried out by the UN High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR), which plays a key role in repatriation, local integration and resettlement of refugees (Susetyo, Fitria, and Asyhari 2016). One possible solution for the refugee is likely through the process of resettlement to developed countries since repatriation and integration with locals seems difficult in practice. Unfortunately, the quota for resettlement opportunities for refugees has decreased by nearly 50 % in 2017, while the need for global resettlement has increased by 17 % since 2016 (UNHCR, 2019b). It is clear that from the state's management and UNHCR efforts to place refugees through the resettlement process, there is no durable solution for refugee management, and it is necessary to have different approaches to solve the refugee problem.
One alternative approach is to transform the management of refugee through the partnership with relevant stakeholders particularly in the involvement of Transnational Corporations (TNCs). TNCs could play an important role since they are multinational enterprises and beyond jurisdiction with supply chains available globally. TNCs tend to hire refugees as labor workers in large numbers rather than local workers due to having operations in different states as well as a diversity of operations as part of their competitive advantages (Wang, 2014). The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) defines TNCs as legal organizations which consist of head companies and their foreign associations in which the parent companies will control assets in foreign countries (UNCTAD, 2010). In relation to refugee management, TNCs could provide market expansion and employment opportunities for refugees as well as to provide capacity building for refugee certainty in the future.
Furthermore, partnership has been acknowledged in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) particularly in goal 17, Partnership for the goals, which can be achieved if all elements work together to strengthen implementation for sustainable development. This article will try to give additional discourse on transforming the management of refugees through partnership with TNCs. The structure of this article will be started by providing problem statement and research questions, followed by analysing of current practices of refugee management by states particularly in EU and ASEAN region. In the next section, the experience of the UNHCR in dealing with resettlement process will be deeply discussed followed by the legal standing for partnership in refugee management in SDGs. The role of TNCs will also be highlighted through capacity building and market expansion for refugees. In conclusion, the article will support the idea of transforming refugee management through a partnership with TNCs in the international development as well as providing some limitations and further research agenda to be explored.
States have been given authorities to deal with refugees globally since they are capable of managing the influx of refugees across boundaries through diplomacy. The role of states in managing refugees has originally been started since decades ago after the establishment of the 1951 Convention, to have the protection of refugees from Europe in fleeing away from war. The refugee convention is actually a necessity to provide standard treatment for refugees after the Second World War (WW II) in which a large group of refugees, particularly in Europe has challenged international communities (Weis, 1990). However, the need for refugee management continued after WW II and include states other than European countries. To deal with this situation, there was an issuance of Refugee Protocols in 1967 where states who are not in the EU could also have a role in managing refugees. The Protocol has authorized states to implement the 1951 Convention but to exclude temporal and geographical areas, meaning that refugees before and after January 1, 1951, and outside Europe are also considered as refugees and need protection from states (Weis, 1990).
Unfortunately, the management of refugees by states seems to have its peak recently by tightening bordering and diplomacy not to allow refugees to arrive in their areas. In the EU for example, many EU Countries tend to refuse the influx of those refugees in 2015 by tightening their immigration procedures as well as their border controls in order to prevent refugees from Syria particularly to enter the states. Similarly, in the ASEAN region, refugees from Myanmar, known as Rohingya, who are also in need to find protection cross the borders mostly through the sea to reach neighbourhood countries, including Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. However, some ASEAN Countries are also facing difficulties to receive more refugees since it could create a local burden for states in the future particularly through the provision of financial matters. Therefore, a lot of refugees are unable to return to their origin countries and are not allowed to enter transiting and destination countries. This uncertain situation creates the possibility of a human rights violation that could endanger their future life.
In addition, the limitation quota for resettlement for refugees has also challenged the capability of the UNHCR to resettle refugees to the third country. As shown in Figure
To deal with this issue, there is a necessity to get involved different stakeholders other than states and the UNHCR, including private sectors and businesses in the international development. In particular, this research will focus on the partnership with TNCs in managing refugee sustainably through market expansion and capacity building of refugees. The involvement of TNCs will also include in designing CSR activities for skill enhancement of refugees in order to prepare them entering the labor opportunity in the future.
In organizing the above problem statement to be more sharpened, the research questions of this article will be stated as follows:
How is state experience in managing refugee in the EU and ASEAN Region?
What are the challenges of UNHCR in the resettlement process?
What are legal standing of partnership for refugee management in the SDGs?
How is sustainable refugee management transformed through the role of TNCs?
Purpose of the Study
This research is intended to address the specific research questions as stated above. In details, below is the purpose of this study
To identify state experience in refugee management in the EU and ASEAN Regions
To explore the role of the UNHCR in resettlement process
To explore the legal standing of partnership for refugee management in the SDGs
To investigate the transformation of sustainable refugee management through the role of TNCs
The research methodology is an important step to answer the research questions through specific methods including data collection and analysis. Traditionally, research methodologies have been classified into two distinctive methods, qualitative and quantitative leading to dividing two large groups of researchers in a particular field of social studies (Onwuegbuzie & Leech, 2005). This paper will use a quantitative study, with specific samples and statistical data to gain a deep understanding of the topic. In this paper, samples researched are institutions including states, UNHCR and TNCs.
In collecting data, this paper focuses on secondary sources and literature reviews. In regards to state and UNHCR authorities in managing refugees, data in numbers and statistics are reviewed in order to provide a global picture of refugee management at the international levels. This includes statistical data about the population of refugees, resettlement quotas and state allocation for placement. In addition, data on SDGs particularly the goal of 17, which is partnership will be analyzed deeply together with other international rules and laws. These include data from Global Compact for Refugee, UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) for businesses including TNCs as well as ILO and UNHCR Collaboration agenda in refugee management.
In data analysis, this paper employs a statistical descriptive analysis. It draws data upon tables, graphs, circular diagrams and figures to search a connection and comparison to hypothesize the findings (Sugiyono 2017). These include for example a comparison between the necessity for resettlement and the quota of receiving resettled refugees. On one side, the UNHCR needs to resettle a large number of refugees but on the other side, states tend to reduce the number of resettlement quotas resulting in uncertainty and long periods of waiting for refugees in transit countries. In addition, the experience of some EU and ASEAN States in managing refugees at the regional level is also explored to strengthen a hypothesize that states have faced difficulties in finding a durable solution for refugees.
State experience in refugee management in some EU and ASEAN Regions
Until currently, it seems that the management of handling refugees by states globally still focuses on security and border tightening. Developed states who have ratified their Convention on Refugees in 1951 tend to refuse the arrivals of refugees by strengthening their security through immigration rules and borders. One of the main reasons behind those policies is sovereignty, in which the influx of refugees will harm their culture, economy and social benefit of their local population (Young et al., 2018). In addition, many developed states tend to build a high wall and fences to prevent refugees from entering the countries, although those refugees are in the need to seek protection and safety from war and persecution in their countries (Jones et al., 2017). As a result, there are a lot of issues of violation of human rights as well as attacks on a civilian in the border territory (Hollenbach, 2016).
Furthermore, there seems no comprehensive solution for states to deal with the increasing number of refugees. In the EU for instance, although some leaders express the need for extraordinary effort to help refugees, some others tend to respect those marginal people but with the position of not having refugees in their own areas (Grigonis, 2017). As a result, members of the EU apply different approaches in managing the arrivals of large numbers of international refugees particularly from Syria in 2015. Hungary, for example, built a high and thick wall in its border to refuse the coming of refugees, and thus, refugees will not be allowed to enter the country. A similar approach is also implemented by the Czech Republic where the country applies tight and secured immigration rules, in which detaining is conducted for illegal migrants and refugees from 40 to 90 days (Grigonis, 2017). In 2005, similar action was also taken by Spain to secure its border to prevent sea migrants from Senegal entering the country through Canary Island (Vives, 2017).
A different approach has been shown by Germany to receive Syrian refugees. Germany has been well known for its welcoming culture when accepting more than one million Syrian refugees in 2015 (Neis et al, 2018). The State also helps them with the direct and humanistic way through the integration process including supports on accommodation, job opportunities, and legal application process. Although integration is a complex and multidimensional issue, it needs to combine all factors including economic, health, educational and social contexts, because there is, in general, a lack of understanding of the diversity, experiences and knowledge refugees bring with them (Robila, 2018). The integration is also intended to bridge interaction with German citizens and neighbourhoods in order for refugees to start a new life in Germany and to have smooth relation with local people.
In the Asia Pacific region, particularly in the Southeast Asia region, approaches in dealing with refugees are also implemented differently. For example, members of ASEAN act in different ways in managing Rohingya’s refugees in the region due to no comprehensive policy from ASEAN. Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand have become three countries in the region that received Rohingya’s refugees after having mass criticism internationally due to being refused to give them protection previously (Wake & Cheung, 2016). Moreover, most ASEAN states have not yet ratified their Refugee Convention in 1951 as well as its Protocol in 1967. From 10 members of ASEAN, only the Philippines and Cambodia, have ratified their Convention on Refugees, while the rest are not signatory members including Indonesia, Singapore, Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Thailand and Vietnam (Taylor n.d.). Being not a party of the Refugee Convention means that protecting refugees internationally is carried out by the UNHCR including determining the status of refugees (JRSI, 2013).
Although ASEAN also does not have comprehensive management in dealing with refugees, the region has issued a human right declaration in line with international humanitarian law and human rights instruments, as a guide to international protection for refugees in the region (UNHCR, 2017). The ASEAN human rights declaration also provides common interests as indicated in the ASEAN Charter in which it focuses more on refugee fundamental rights including protection of the life of refugees, respect of their civil and political rights as well as promotes their social and cultural rights (Association of Southeast Asian Nations, 2012).
The role of the UNHCR in resettlement process
The UNHCR has the responsibility to handle the refugee matters for countries that are not a signatory of the Refugee Convention 1951 and Its Protocol 1967. In Indonesia for example, the management of refugees from Myanmar, known as Rohingya, is carried out by the UNHCR. There are three procedures conducted by the UNHCR, including repatriation to the origin countries, local integration, and resettlement process. The first two options are likely impossible to implement due to the fact repatriation to the origin country who still faces difficulty and persecution is strictly prohibited by the International Humanitarian Law as well as the national law which could be harmful to refugees to return. Furthermore, local integration is also unavailable since Indonesia, not a part of the Refugee Convention, has no right to integrate refugees with local people and thus it has to be carried out by the UNHCR. The most promising task by the UNHCR is then to resettle those refugees to third countries (Missbach et al., 2018). However, the process of the UNHCR to resettle refugees takes a considerable amount of time, which means that refugees are still staying in the neighbourhood or transiting countries with no certainty for their future livelihood.
In addition, UNHCR also faces a challenge in the resettlement process as shown in Figure
The legal standing of partnership for refugee management in the SDGs
Since refugee is a complex issue with multidimensional actors involved, it needs sustainable and further international collaboration, including a partnership with relevant stakeholders. There are two important advancements stated in the goals of SDGs in relation to refugees. The first goal is related to promoting safe, orderly and regular mobility of people as stated in goal 10.7. In this goal, the SDGs have placed an important issue that migrants and refugees are the problem of the international community and not a single country problem. The second global agenda is laid out in goal 17, which is in the form of partnership with a global institution to strengthen the achievement of SDGs in 2030 (UNDP, 2015). This particular goal has stated that the world currently has more interconnected than before and problems could be solved through the implementation of global partnership. Therefore, it seems that collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, including private sectors would be an additional discourse for sustainable refugee management in the future.
Moreover, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration has specifically paid attention to migration matters globally. From 23 purposes of the Global Compact (GC), the objective of 23 in specific, has focused more on strengthening international cooperation as well as global partnership to promote safe, orderly and regular movement of migrants. These include bilateral, regional or multilateral partnerships to propose an appropriate solution to the mobility of people (UNHCR, 2018b). Furthermore, at the end of 2018, the UN members have also agreed to establish the GC for Refugee as a framework to deal with the current situation of refugees. Both Compacts are not the binding obligation, rather it is a mutual understanding with no pressure to its members, unlike the 1951 Convention on Refugee. Nevertheless, both the Compact of Migration and Refugee could be used as a guide for countries to implement a safe and orderly movement for sustainable refugee in the future in order to achieve the SDGs. Both are also coherent and relevant with guidance in the international humanitarian law, human rights instruments as well as other applicable international instruments including protection to stateless persons (UN General Assembly, 2018).
The GC for Refugees, in particular, has stated the importance of partnership in dealing with the refugee. Multi stakeholder and partnership approach has been a key tool for responsibility sharing in host and transit countries with humanitarian principles. The partnership in the GC for refugees includes the following: new institutional arrangements for the creation of business and financial instruments; and supports for refugees, host, and transiting countries in employment and labor mobility enabling greater opportunities for private sector investment (UN General Assembly, 2018). This is also in line with GC for refugee objectives including providing assistance for local burdens in origin countries, improving self-reliance of refugees, developing opportunities and access to developed states as well as providing a safe return of refugees in their home countries (Khasru, 2016).
Similarly, at the regional level, for example in the Asia Pacific region, the partnership with business entities is also addressed by the Bali Process Declaration to eradicate human trafficking, people smuggling, and other transnational crimes. It is because the movement of refugees particularly through the sea is much affected by the existence of smuggling agency. In the latest of the Seventh Ministerial Meeting in 2018, the Declaration initiated to participate in business leaders for the first time to collaborate in combating the irregular migration through Government and Business Forum. Business leaders have to take part in ensuring that companies will provide migrant employees with assistances and supports and take into consideration ethical and legal perspectives (RSO Bali Process, 2018).
The transformation of sustainable refugee management through the role of TNCs
As stated previously that limitation by states in refugee management has come to the involvement of other relevant stakeholders, including private sectors, through partnership to find a durable solution since refugee is not a single country problem. Collaboration among stakeholders will provide benefits for all, including those of refugees. Such a collaboration could be in the form of policy, implementation, and research altogether. In European countries, for example, the government has asked private sectors to become actively involved in a collaboration to formulate a migration policy (Menz 2009). In the Asia Pacific, the involvement of business leaders is also viewed as an advantage through partnership in the Bali Process Declaration. Similarly, Australian example in collaborating with public and private is also important to be taken into consideration, such as allowing migrants flow to business, providing returned incentives if the economy is slow, strong union monitoring to avoid cheap labor and other sympathy activities for migrants (Warshall, 2002).
This paper argues that the involvement of TNCs as business enterprises through a partnership would be an additional discourse in transforming refugee management. However, the role of TNCs could be a matter if not appropriately managed. On one hand, TNCs are expected to gain profit with the existence of refugees and thus they might be able to catch the opportunity to gain the best brain into their multinational companies. On the other hand, it is also a chance for smuggling and trafficking organizations to have refugee supply and demands as a result of the mobility of people either legally or illegally in reaching destination countries (IOM, 2016). The smuggling and trafficking network could also create labor exploitation, particularly for children and women who have a large percentage that violates human rights and further establish modern slavery in the labor market. There are 40.3 million people working in modern exploitation in 2018 and 71 percent of them are women and children who are working in the supply chain of industries worldwide (Walk Free Foundation, 2018). As shown in figure
In addressing the issue of human trafficking and people smuggling, TNCs could play an important role by providing capacity building to refugees to equip them with updated skilled and becoming an asset for market expansion of TNCs supply chains worldwide. It is believed that business can contribute to the solution of migrants by providing training and skills for their future (Horowitz, 2016). Moreover, it is the fact that TNCs tend to hire workers from refugees to become their labor workers in supply chains rather than to hire local workers because diversity in the workplace will create and advance their competitive advantages in their supply chains globally (Wang 2014). In addition, TNCs also are better places to recruit migrant workers. It is because the firms can pick and choose refugees appropriate for their company goals since they are able to identify the skills that will be useful and productive for the company (Sharma 2017).
In relation for refugees to entering the labor market, it is a necessity to enable collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to have a formal work possibility for refugees. UNHCR in collaboration with the ILO will provide a 5-year global education strategy (2019-2023) to reduce the gap in education for refugees and make the involvement of multi-stakeholders to develop refugee self-reliance in which attention will be given primarily to non-formal and skill training to support host countries (UNHCR, 2019a). Previously, ILO and UNHCR collaboration on market and value chain have been implemented in many countries including South Africa, Costa Rica, Pakistan, Mexico, Egypt, and Zambia to increase protection for refugees and their households. Those collaborations will also enhance positive economic development in the host countries and communities through the push and pull factors. The former will have the initiative to focus more on the target group of refugees for skill development while the latter is related to the expansion of the market and increasing employability for refugees (ILO, 2017). These guidelines of collaboration between ILO and UNHCR experience could be a case learned by TNCs as a framework to provide alternative solutions to the refugee issue.
The transformation of TNCs in sustainable refugee management could also be carried out through the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs. It is not only profit economically of the main goals of companies, but there is also a responsibility to have a wider purpose for the environment and social advantage. In the CSR principle, there are four layers of main activities of every company that needs to be taken into consideration, which later forms a pyramid, started by the economy, legal, ethical and Philanthropy (Carroll, 1991). The highest rank which is philanthropy is the layer that business entities need to be encouraged to perform economically, legally and ethically practices of business for the betterment of the community.
In relation to the refugee problem, the allocation of CSR for the purpose of building capacity for refugees would be an opportunity for TNCs. It is due to the fact that CSR includes integration between business strategy and social needs in the community. Furthermore, it would be an advantage if TNCs could work together with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to deliver training, education and skill development for refugees. While TNCs have a CSR program of capacity building for refugees, NGOs which are closer to the community will be able to implement the program through training and skill development program for refugees (Singh, 2017). Moreover, CSR at the international cooperation could also provide assistance for the government in host countries by pursuing TNCs to hire refugee workers in their companies as part of their integration programs and providing tax allowances for these companies (Saltaji, 2017).
In achieving the SDGs goals, TNCs are obligated to deal with societal and environmental issues to achieve economic development through CSR programs while avoiding negative impacts on the community (Schönherr, Findler, & Martinuzzi, 2017). Business entities with a good implementation of CSR will not only be able to help achieve the SDGs agenda, but they will also have advantages and trusts from business, government, policymakers, and investors. In short, it will enhance firms to have a more competitive advantage for their business future.
The management of refugees has been a challenging issue since 2015, in which a large number of refugees from Syria tried to enter the EU and a group of Rohingya from Myanmar tried to reach its neighborhood including the ASEAN region. States originally has authorities to manage refugee in their territory, particularly those who are the party of Convention of Refugee in 1951 and Its Protocol in 1967. However, this paper has shown that states have reached their limitation by not allowing more refugees into their areas. They tend to use sovereignty issues that could harm their culture and local people to prevent the arrivals of new refugees by building high walls and tightening borders.
Similarly, the UNHCR who is also responsible for managing refugees in states who are not part of the Convention finds a barrier in implementation, particularly in regards to the resettlement process. With the high number of the refugee population under the UNHCR mandates, it is a necessity to have a large number of refugee resettlement to third countries. Unfortunately, third countries, mainly developed countries have reduced their quota for resettlement. As a result, the UNHCR finds difficulty in sending more refugees to third countries to reduce the refugee population. It also means that a large number of refugees will need to stay longer in the neighborhood or transiting countries without certainty and livelihood opportunities for their future and further could create a possibility of having human right violation.
Taking into consideration the limitation of states and the UNHCR roles in managing refugees, it needs an international collaboration to find a durable solution since refugee is a complex problem. One such collaboration could be conducted through a partnership with private sectors. In the global development context, the partnership has been acknowledged in one of the specific goals of SDGs in achieving the 2030 agenda. In addition, the Global Compact for Refugees also recognizes partnership as an important issue in providing self-reliance for refugees. One of the specific partnerships with private sectors, the involvement of TNCs would provide additional discourse in managing refugees.
TNCs are important institutions to solve the refugee issue since they are borderless and have supply chains across the globe. TNCs are also capable of recruiting a large group of refugees for their competitive advantage in the future. The role of TNCs would be essential in providing market intervention and capacity building for refugees through the reallocation of CSR programs. It is hoped that through capacity building, refugees will be able to gain livelihood opportunities in market expansion provided by TNCs. However, this paper has some limitation that needs to be addressed. Firstly, state experience in managing refugees is also influenced by political intervention in which this study has not yet acknowledged. Politics are also important in decision making in relation to refugee management. In particular, for countries who are not part of the Refugee Convention, political intervention might be essential in legislation and authorization of states to deal with the refugee issue. Secondly, this paper has not yet conducted specific researches in selected TNCs to learn how market expansion and capacity building might be carried out in refugee management. Finally, there is a necessity for future study in the implementation of partnership with TNCs in managing refugees. Since the focus is on market expansion and capacity building, it is important to collaborate with ILO to provide work opportunities for refugees. In addition, providing capacity building to equip refugees with skills and knowledge would also be essential to prepare them entering the labor market for their livelihood opportunity.
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