Working Paper

BASIC Research Working Paper 17

Moving Targets: Social Protection as a Link Between Humanitarianism, Development and Displacement

Published on 7 June 2022

Despite the widespread concern with social protection in the field of development, it has had little impact on displacement until very recently. UNHCR has had a Social Protection Unit since 2009, but social protection is barely mentioned in either the Global Compact on Refugees or the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, both agreed in 2018.

The period since 2018 has seen a growth of research interest and new policy development. This represents the latest appearance of the humanitarian-development nexus in the field of displacement. This nexus is a long-standing one and is inherent in the term ‘durable solution’ as the only effective end of displacement. Unfortunately, there are few recognised successes, and durable solutions are enjoyed by only a tiny proportion of the growing number of displaced people in the world today. This makes renewed attention to the humanitarian-development nexus all the more urgent.

In this paper we review the relationship between a humanitarian response to initial displacement and longer-term development planning, as well as the recent range of research and policy responses in this field. These demonstrate significant potential of social protection. We go on to consider six areas of developing theorisation in order to inform what would constitute success in the expanding inclusion of displaced people in social protection programmes or systems. We conclude with four suggestions where further research in this area can help to determine how and if the potential for social protection to offer more sustainable responses to displacement is being realised.

Cite this publication

Collyer, M.; te Lintelo, D.J.H.; Mutambasere, T. and Zaman, T. (2022) Moving Targets: Social Protection as a Link Between Humanitarianism, Development and Displacement, BASIC Research Working Paper 17, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies, DOI: 10.19088/BASIC.2022.017


Dolf J.H. te Lintelo

Research Fellow and Cities Cluster Leader

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