BASIC Research Working Paper 17 – Moving Targets: Social Protection as a Link between Humanitarianism, Development and Displacement – Global

Despite widespread concern about social protection in development, this has had little impact on displacement until very recently. UNHCR has had a social protection unit since 2009, but social protection is barely mentioned in the Global Compact on Refugees or the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, both concluded in 2018.

The period since 2018 has seen a growth in interest in research and the development of new policies. This represents the latest appearance of the humanitarian-development nexus in the field of displacement. This link has existed for a long time and is inherent in the term “durable solution” as the only effective end of displacement. Unfortunately, there are few recognized successes and only a tiny fraction of the growing number of displaced people around the world are enjoying durable solutions. This makes renewed attention to the link between humanitarian aid and development all the more urgent.

In this article, we examine the relationship between a humanitarian response to initial displacement and longer-term development planning, as well as the recent range of research and policy responses in this area. These demonstrate significant potential for social protection. We go on to examine six areas of developing theorizing to shed light on what would constitute success in the increasing inclusion of displaced people in social protection programs or systems. We conclude with four suggestions where further research in this area can help determine how and if the potential of social protection to provide more durable responses to displacement is being realized.

Read the full report here.

Joel C. Hicks