Main Debates

  • Is there a legal obligation among States to cooperate and share responsibility for refugee protection?
  • If so, what is its basis? What does it require?
  • Burden sharing v. burden shifting
  • Are the financial donations of states a legitimate mechanism for burden shifting?

Main Points

  • Capacity of receiving states
  • Transit states as buffer zones
  • Broader implication on host societies
  • Implicit burden sharing

UNHCR documents

  1. UNHCR, ’Expert Meeting on International Cooperation to Share Burdens and Responsibilities’, 28 June 2011.
  2. UNHCR, ’Regional Cooperative Approach to Address Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Irregular Movement, November 2011.
  3. UNHCR, ’State of the World’s Refugees: in search of solidarity’, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).
  4. UNHCR, ’International Solidarity in all its aspects: national, regional and international responsibilities for refugees’, UN doc. A/AC/96/004, 7 September 1998.



  1. A. Betts, ’International cooperation between North and South to enhance refugee protection in regions of origin’, Refugee Studies Centre Working Paper no. 25, July 2005.
  2. A. Hurwitz, The Collective Responsibility of States to Protect Refugees (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), Introduction.
  3. A. Suhrke and A. Hans, ’Responsibility-sharing’ in J. Hathaway (ed), Reconceiving Refugee Law (Leiden: Nijhoff, 2007).
  4. D. Anker, J. Fitzpatrick, and A. Shacknove, ‘Crisis and Cure: A Reply to Hathaway/Neve and Schuck’, Harvard Human Rights Journal, vol. 11 (Spring 1998), pp. 295–310.
  5. G. Goodwin-Gill and J. McAdam, The Refugee in International Law, 3rd edition, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 502–505.
  6. J. Hathaway and R. A. Neve, ‘Making International Refugee Law Relevant Again: A Proposal for Collectivized and Solution-Oriented Protection’, Harvard Human Rights Journal, vol. 10 (Spring 1997), pp. 115–151, 187–209.
  7. P. Schuck, ‘Refugee Burden-Sharing: A Modest Proposal’, Yale Journal of International Law, vol. 23 (1997), pp. 243–297.


  1. R. Towle, ’Processes and critiques of the Indochinese Comprehensive Plan of Action: an instrument of burden-sharing?’ in International Journal of Refugee Law, vol. 18 (2006), pp. 537-570.
  2. A. Betts, ’Comprehensive Plans of Action: insights from CIREFCA and the Indochinese CPA’ in UNHCR, New Issues in Refugee Research, Working paper 120, January 2006.
  3. C. Bailliet, ‘The Tampa Case and its Impact on Burden Sharing at Sea’, Human Rights Quarterly, vol. 25, no. 3 (2003), pp. 741–774.
  4. A. Edwards, ’A Numbers Game: Counting Refugees and International Burden-Sharing’, University of Tasmania Law Review, vol 32, no. 1 (2013), pp. 1-19.
  5. E. R. Thielemann and T. Dewan, ‘The Myth of Free-Riding: Refugee Protection and Implicit Burden-Sharing’, West European Politics, vol. 29, no. 2 (2006), pp. 351–369.
  6. A. Vibeke Eggli, Mass Refugee Influx and the Limits of Public International Law (The Hague: Martinus Nijhof Publishers, 2002), pp. 40–54, 72–87.

UNHCR documents

  1. UNHCR, ’Expert Meeting on International Cooperation to Share Burdens and Responsibilities’, Amman, Jordan, 28 June 2011.

 II.1.6 Burden- and responisibility-sharing and International Cooperation II.1.6 Burden- and responisibility-sharing and International Cooperation