Humanitarian Policymaking as Networked Governance

Social Network Analysis of the Global Compact on Refugees

Published in: Journal of International Humanitarian Action, Volume 7, Article number 22 (2022). doi: 10.1186/s41018-022-00130-1

Posted on RAND.org on November 02, 2022

by Aaron Clark-Ginsberg, Jay Balagna, Cyd Stacy Nam, Maya Casagrande, Olivia Wilkinson

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Humanitarian policymaking is a form of 'networked governance,' involving many different stakeholders working in parallel to influence each other and to shape policy agendas. This article uses social network analysis (SNA), a research technique used to understand complex structures of relations between stakeholders, to begin to understand policymaking from this networked governance perspective. To do so, we examine one of the most significant refugee policy processes in recent history, the 2016–2018 efforts to formulate and adopt the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR). Starting with the policy network of one stakeholder involved in GCR, the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Community, we survey 24 representatives of organizations involved in the GCR policymaking process. In doing so, we identify the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, World Vision, and the International Council of Voluntary Agencies as three influential stakeholders in this network of mostly international NGOs. We note limited engagement of local and private sector actors but argue that this may or may not be problematic from a perspective of networked governance and equity. Through examining the Joint Learning Initiative policy network, this article offers new evidence concerning who is influential in international refugee policymaking space and contributes to an understanding of humanitarian action as a networked governance enterprise. We also show, as proof of concept, the ways SNA can be used to gain an understanding of the dynamics of policymaking systems and the patterns of influence within them.

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