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Dr. Ronny Patz and Dr. Svanhildur Thorvaldsdottir presented research on UNHCR resourcing at ISA 2018


At the 2018 International Studies Association Conference (ISA) in San Francisco, Dr. Ronny Patz and Dr. Svanhildur Thorvaldsdottir presented their ongoing research on the resourcing of global refugee policy. Their paper “IO Bureaucracies Between Resource Mobilization and Problem-Solving: The Case of the UNHCR“ was part of the panel "The Power and Rules of International Organizations“ chaired and discussed by Dr. Michal Parízek (Charles University, Prague) and Dr. Hylke Dijkstra.


The ability to effectively raise funds is key to the power and influence of international organizations (IOs) in international affairs. Yet, whereas recent contributions have focused on funding rules and relations be- tween donors and IO bureaucracies as being central to IO governance, we still do not fully understand the ways in which IO resourcing actually matters for global policy making. Do IOs, and in particular their bureaucracies, try to mobilize and allocate resources in order to address--and eventually solve--transnational policy problems or is IO resourcing merely a function of state interests? Focusing on global refugee policy, we present new data on country-level expenditures by the UNHCR from 1967-2016 to provide initial answers to this question. We show that the agency demonstrates an ability to respond to the scope of the refugee problem to a significant degree, with an average increase in country-level expenditures of approximately six to eight percent for a ten percent increase in the number of refugees, all else equal. We furthermore show that the influence of the organization's largest donor, the United States, appears limited, but that regional concerns may impact the distribution of funding to a significant degree.

The paper is available on the ISA website (login required) and is part of the DFG-funded project Resource Mobilization in International Public Administrations led by Prof. Dr. Klaus H. Goetz. The project is part of the DFG Research Unit (2014-20) “International Public Administration“.