How Charter Cities Can Create Better Refugee Responses

In a world with increasing numbers of forcibly displaced persons, this paper explores how charter cities can generate more effective responses to refugee movements and place refugee and local community needs firmly at the center of local governance.

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The innovations in governance offered by the special jurisdictions of charter cities provide promising policy tools that support refugee agency and autonomy in situations of protracted displacement. Existing practices that keep refugees in de facto permanent encampments for years are fundamentally flawed and damaging to refugees, local communities, and national governments alike, as well as a contravention of refugees’ rights and freedoms. Scholars and practitioners increasingly recognize the importance of social and economic rights and livelihoods to any ‘durable solution’ for refugees. This paper illustrates the ways in which charter cities can achieve these aims while also providing long-term benefits and sustainable development for local communities.

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