IRIS WEBINAR: Shifting Responsibilities ‘Down’, ‘Up’ and ‘Out’: A Multi-Level Governance Approach to Understanding Turkey’s Refugee Policy

3 November, 2-3pm (UK time) via Zoom. Registration via Eventbrite

In this webinar organised by the University of Birmingham’s Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS), Vivien Lowndes and Rabia Polat present their work on the governance of Syrian refugees in Turkey

This talk investigates local government responses to the Syrian refugee situation in Turkey, situating the analysis within a multi-level governance (MLG) approach. We explore how municipalities in Turkey have coped with the arrival of 3.6 million Syrians within a few years amid limited resources, ambiguous legal framework and changing national policy. A MLG approach enables us to analyse the negotiation of authority between different levels of governance, namely the international level (including the European Union), the national government and elected municipalities as well as horizontal actors such as NGOs. Turkey’s highly centralised political system, combined with the current political context, has restricted the capacity of local actors to develop their own refugee policies. Nevertheless, our research discovers local variation and creative policy responses, which can be explained at least in part by the ways in which municipalities relate to actors at other governance levels, both formally and via informal networks. The MLG approach helps explain how capacity is being generated at the local level through the involvement of NGOs and international funders and agencies, working alongside municipal actors in an environment where the nation state is reluctant to empower local government with funds, powers and legal safeguards. The value of the MLG framework to migration studies also lies in its recognition that nation states are increasingly shifting responsibilities for migration ‘up’ towards international and supranational institutions, ‘out’ towards non-public actors, and ‘down’ towards local level authorities (Caponio and Jones-Correa, 2018). Our research elaborates this proposition in relation to the case of Turkey.

Vivien LOWNDES is a professor of public policy at the Institute of Local Government Studies at the University of Birmingham.

Rabia Karakaya POLAT is a professor of political science at the Department of International Relations at Işık University.

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