In the October-December 2019 issue of Australian Quarterly magazine, the Kaldor Centre’s Tristan Harley has published ‘Global Compact on Refugees: Opportunities for Australian reform and leadership?’. 

Harley notes that the Global Compact on Refugees highlights the benefits of including refugees in all decision-making processes that affect them. Yet, Australian policy and legislation in recent years has sought to silence refugees, criminalise disclosure of conditions in offshore detention, and cut funding to refugee-led organisations and civil society organisations.

‘International refugee protection has proven to be a difficult collective action issue to resolve over the years. Despite repeated pushes for enhanced international protection of refugees, lack of cooperation among states is endemic. Many states remain unwilling to cede sovereign control over immigration and are reluctant to develop new international legal regulations in this area. 

‘There is also a tendency on the part of some states to free-ride on the contributions of others, and to take advantage of global economic inequalities among states. Further, some states are erroneously convinced, in an era of increasing securitisation, that what is needed is not protection of refugees, but protection from refugees. ‘

Harley’s article explores some of the ways governments and other actors can address the shortcomings in international cooperation in relation to refugees, and how Australia in particular can live up to its commitments and exercise leadership on the issue.

Read this full Australian Quarterly article free.

About the Author:

Tristan Harley is co-author of Refugees, Regionalism and Responsibility (Elgar, 2016) with Professor Penelope Mathew, and a doctoral candidate at the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at the University of New South Wales. His current research explores responsibility sharing in the international refugee regime, and the meaningful participation of refugees in decision-making processes. 


Photo: A close-up view of the Za'atri camp for Syrian refugees as seen on July 18, 2013 © US Dept of State