Public Authority and Legitimacy Making (PALM): Host-Refugee Relations in Urban Jordan and Lebanon

This project entitled Public Authority and Legitimacy Making (PALM) is part of and seeks to contribute to a research programme on “Security & Rule of Law (SRoL), and is funded by NWO-WOTRO (the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research | WOTRO Science for Global Development). The project is led by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS, Dr Dolf te Lintelo) and delivered in collaboration with Impact Initiatives, ACTED, Occlude and the University of Sussex, and through close collaboration with end-users such as UN-Habitat (Lebanon); World Vision (Jordan and Lebanon) and the Global Alliance for Urban Crises.

The Public Authorities and Legitimacy-Making (PALM) project will use mixed methods approaches to understand what everyday practices bestow legitimacy on state and non-state actors attempting to exercise public authority in the most fragile urban settings in Lebanon and Jordan.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians, Palestinians and others have found refuge in urban Lebanon and Jordan, but face impoverishment and significant human insecurity. Competition for housing, jobs and access to services is fierce and has resulted in flare-ups, yet overall, host-refugee relations appear remarkably stable. In fragile urban settings, typically, a mix of state and non-state public authorities provide security, welfare and representation to support inhabitants.

PALM will investigate in what ways diverse public authorities have contributed (or not contributed) to peaceful host-refugee relations. It will further investigate what assumptions regarding such public authorities underlie mainstream humanitarian and development interventions, which until now have largely focused on supporting municipalities. Effective urban humanitarian action requires better knowledge and practical recommendations on how to engage diverse public authorities. Working closely with end-users, we will identify and widely circulate evidence-based advice for humanitarian and development practitioners and policymakers with the aim of advancing peaceful host-refugee relations, inclusive and legitimate governance and strengthened human security.

This study investigates how the local urban politics of establishing and maintaining legitimate rule affects host-refugee relations, whether directly or indirectly, to produce particular human security and wellbeing outcomes. It further investigates in what ways international agencies in the humanitarian/development nexus have considered the role of local legitimation processes in their interventions towards legitimate governance and stability.

Key contacts

Dolf J.H. te Lintelo

Research Fellow and Cities Cluster Leader

+44 (0)1273 915767

Project details

start date
23 November 2018
end date
1 September 2019


About this project

Jordan Lebanon


Recent work


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Crowdsourcing images on authority in Lebanon and Jordan

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17 April 2019