UNHCR as a Surrogate State: Protracted Refugee Situations, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

UNHCR as a Surrogate State

Protracted Refugee Situations, 1st Edition

By Sarah Deardorff Miller


178 pages | 11 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138209787
pub: 2017-09-14
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315456812
pub: 2017-09-22
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International organizations (IOs) that focus on refugees are finding themselves spread increasingly thin. As the scale of displacement reaches historic levels—protracted refugee situations now average 26 years—organizations are staying for years on end, often working well beyond their original mandates. In some cases, IOs may even act as a substitute for the state. This book considers the conditions under which surrogacy occurs and what it means for the organization’s influence on the state. It looks specifically at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as a surrogate state in protracted refugee situations in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Drawing on international relations literature and empirical studies of UNHCR, Miller asks how and when UNHCR takes on surrogacy, and what effect this has on its ability to influence how a host state treats refugees. The book develops a framework for understanding IOs at the domestic level and presents a counterintuitive finding: IO surrogacy actually leads to less influence on the state. In other words, where UNHCR behaves like a state, it is less able to influence a host state’s refugee policies.

UNHCR provides an excellent example of an IO working on multiple levels, making this book of great interest to practitioners and policymakers working on refugee-related issues, and scholars of forced migration, international relations, international organizations, and UNHCR.

Table of Contents


1 The Theoretical Framework

2 Applying the Framework to UNHCR

3 Kenya

4 Tanzania

5 Uganda

6 Conclusions

About the Author

Sarah Deardorff Miller teaches international relations and refugee-focused courses with Columbia University, American University and the University of London. She previously worked, and continues to consult, with NGOs, and think tanks and recently released a book on Syrian displacement.

About the Series

Global Institutions

The "Global Institutions Series" is edited by Thomas G. Weiss (The CUNY Graduate Center, New York, USA) and Rorden Wilkinson (University of Sussex, UK).

The Series has two "streams" identified by their covers:

  • Blue covers offer comprehensive, accessible, and informative guides to the history, structure, and activities of key international organizations, and introductions to topics of key importance in contemporary global governance. Recognized experts use a similar structure to address the general purpose and rationale for specific organizations along with historical developments, membership, structure, decision-making procedures, key functions, and an annotated bibliography and guide to electronic sources.
  • Red covers consist of research monographs and edited collections that advance knowledge about one aspect of global governance; they reflect a wide variety of intellectual orientations, theoretical persuasions, and methodological approaches.

Together these streams provide a coherent and complementary portrait of the problems, prospects, and possibilities confronting global institutions today.

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