Competing for Refugees: A Market-Based Solution to a Humanitarian Crisis

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Joseph Blocher & Mitu Gulati are faculty at the Duke University School of Law.

The current refugee crisis demands novel legal solutions, and new ways of summing the political will to implement them. As a matter of national incentives, the goal must be to design mechanisms that discourage countries of origin from creating refugees, and encourage host countries to welcome them. One way to achieve this would be to recognize that persecuted refugee groups have a financial claim against their countries of origin, and that this claim can be traded to host nations in exchange for acceptance. Modifications to the international apparatus would be necessary, but the basic legal elements of this proposal already exist. In short, international law can and should give refugees a legal asset, give host nations incentives to accept them, and give oppressive countries of origin the bill.

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