International efforts to manage the flow of refugees, while admirable and impressive, have failed to maximize the precious resources needed for refugee protection. Although the number of refugees remains tragically high, the resources for protecting them are poorly distributed among states. Some states receive massive flows of refugees but lack the resources to protect them. Other states, more distant from refugee influxes, possess resources that could be used for protection yet have no obligation to provide them. Still other states fall somewhere in between these positions. As a solution, Professor Schuck proposes a refugee burden-sharing arrangement that would establish an international system, operated on a regional basis for the allocation and trading of protection responsibilities. A regional or international body would calculate each state's annual protection burden. Once a state received its allotment, it would have the right to sell some or all of its protection obligations under certain constraints designed to avoid human rights abuses. This system would assure at least minimal protection to a larger number of refugees, while giving states a broader range of options for discharging their protection burdens. Its success would depend critically on powerful states' willingness to create incentives for broad participation within a region, but new geopolitical developments and trends in refugee flows have increased the proposal's likely attractiveness and effectiveness compared to the current system.
Peter H. Schuck,
Refugee Burden-Sharing: A Modest Proposal,
Yale J. Int'l L.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjil/vol22/iss2/2