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Global Refugee Policy (GRP) is a phrase often used by scholars, practitioners and policymakers, but one that is seldom conceptualised, defined or unpacked. Indeed, understanding of GRP is highly contingent on the ontological assumptions and disciplinary lenses applied from the beginning. And yet despite its hazy nature, scholars of all persuasions generally agree that policies have the potential to deeply affect the lives of refugees and other forced migrants in significant ways, from constraining their access to basic human rights, to influencing how, when and where refugees may choose to move. The paper attempts to form an understanding of what we mean by GRP and how policies affect the lives of refugees. It seeks to highlight several approaches to understanding GRP, drawing most notably from political science/international relations and anthropological/sociological perspectives. While the two are not opposed – indeed in many instances they are complementary – they exemplify useful ways of understanding GRP. Ultimately this paper seeks to highlight these perspectives in order to draw out key questions for further debate, and to provoke additional scholarship on the subject. This paper was prepared for the RSC 30th Anniversary Conference, 6-7 December 2012.

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Discussion paper


Refugee Studies Centre

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