Prof Alexander Betts

Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs and and Director, Refugee Studies Centre

Alexander Betts is Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs, William Golding Senior Fellow in Politics at Brasenose College, Associate Head (Doctoral and Research Training) of the Social Science Division and and Director of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford.

His research focuses mainly on the political economy of refugee assistance, with a focus on Africa. He is co-author, with Paul Collier, of Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System (Penguin Allen Lane and Oxford University Press, 2017), which was named by the Economist as one of the 'Best Books of 2017'. His other books include Survival Migration: Failed Governance and the Crisis of Displacement (Cornell University Press, 2013), Protection by Persuasion: International Cooperation in the Refugee Regime (Cornell University Press, 2009), Mobilising the Diaspora: How Refugees Challenge Authoritarianism (Cambridge University Press, 2016), Global Migration Governance (Oxford University Press, 2012), Refugee Economies: Forced Displacement and Development (Oxford University Press, 2016), and Refugees in International Relations (Oxford University Press, 2011).  

He is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, was named by Foreign Policy magazine in the top 100 global thinkers of 2016, and his TED talks have been viewed by over 3 million people. He has previously worked for UNHCR and has served as a Councillor on the World Refugee Council. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Guardian.

He currently leads the IKEA Foundation-funded Refugee Economies Programme, which undertakes participatory research on the economic lives of refugees in Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia.

He received his MPhil (with distinction) and DPhil from the University of Oxford. 

Research
Teaching & Supervision
Publications
News
In the media
Rethinking refuge
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The Global Governed? Refugees as Providers of Protection and Assistance
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Rethinking refuge
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Refugee economies
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The politics of the Syrian refugee crisis
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Survival migration: refugee or voluntary migrant?
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Pages

Alexander Betts teaches the Introduction to the Study of Forced Migration course for the MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies.

Research Students supervised

Raphael Bradenbrink
Research Student
Stephen Damianos
Research Student
Angela Pilath
Research Student
Samuel Ritholtz
Research Student
Emma Walker-Silverman
Research Student

Books and monographs

Betts, Alexander (with Paul Collier) (2017) 'Refuge - Transforming a Broken Refugee System', London: Allen Lane
Betts, Alexander (with Will Jones) (2016) 'Mobilising the Diaspora: How Refugees Challenge Authoritarianism', Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Betts, Alexander (with L Bloom, N Omata, Josiah Kaplan) (2016) 'Refugee Economies: Forced Displacement and Development', Oxford: Oxford University Press
Betts, Alexander (with Phil Orchard) (2014) 'Implementation and World Politics: How International Norms Change Practice', Oxford: Oxford University Press
Betts, Alexander (2013) 'Survival Migration: Failed Governance and the Crisis of Displacement', Ithaca: Cornell University Press (Monograph)
Betts, Alexander (ed) (2011) 'Global Migration Governance', Oxford: Oxford University Press
Betts, Alexander (with G Loescher) (eds) (2011) 'Refugees in International Relations', Oxford: Oxford University Press
Betts, Alexander (with G Loescher, J Milner) (2011) 'UNHCR: The Politics and Practice of Refugee Protection (2nd edition)', London: Routledge
Betts, Alexander (2009) 'Protection by Persuasion: International Cooperation in the Refugee Regime', Ithaca: Cornell University Press
Betts, Alexander (with Gil Loescher, James Milner) (eds) (2008) 'The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): The Politics and Practice of Refugee Protection into the 21st Century', London: Routledge

Journal articles and special issues

Betts, Alexander (2020) 'The Kalobeyei Settlement: A Self-Reliance Model for Refugees?', Journal of Refugee Studies 33 (1) 189–223
Betts, Alexander (2020) 'Self-Reliance and Social Networks: Explaining Refugees’ Reluctance to Relocate from Kakuma to Kalobeyei', Journal of Refugee Studies 62-85 33 (1)
Betts, Alexander (2015) 'The normative terrain of the global refugee regime', Ethics & International Affairs 29 (4) 363-75
Betts, Alexander (with Gil Loescher) (eds) (2014) 'Special Issue: Emerging Issues in Refugee Policy Around the World', Refugee Survey Quarterly 33 (1)
Betts, Alexander (with Gil Loescher) (2014) 'Introduction: Continuity and Change in Global Refugee Policy', Refugee Survey Quarterly 33 (1) 1-7
Betts, Alexander (2013) 'Regime Complexity and International Organizations: UNHCR as a Challenged Institution', Global Governance 19 69-81
Betts, Alexander (2010) 'Survival Migration: A New Protection Framework', Global Governance 16(3) 361-82
Betts, Alexander (2010) 'The Refugee Regime Complex', Refugee Survey Quarterly 29(2) 12-37
Betts, Alexander (2010) 'Towards a Soft Law Framework for the Protection of Vulnerable Irregular Migrants', International Journal of Refugee Law 22(2) 209-36
Betts, Alexander (2010) 'Soft Law and Vulnerable Migrants', Georgetown Journal of Immigration Law 24(4)
Betts, Alexander (2009) 'Institutional Proliferation and the Refugee Regime', Perspectives on Politics 7(1) 53-8
Betts, Alexander (2008) 'North-South Cooperation in the Refugee Regime: The Role of Linkages', Global Governance 14(2) 157-78

Chapters

Betts, Alexander (forthcoming) 'UNHCR, Autonomy and Mandate Change'. In J Oestreich (ed) International Organizations as Self-Directed Actors , London: Routledge
Betts, Alexander (with Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar & Aparna Surendra ) (2016) 'Humanitarian innovation, integration, and the architecture of refugee protection'. In R Hsu & C Reinprecht (eds) Migration and Integration: New Models for Mobility and Coexistence , Vienna: Vienna University Press
Betts, Alexander (2016) 'Global governance and forced migration'. In Anna Triandafyllidou (ed) Routledge Handbook of Immigration and Refugee Studies , London: Routledge
Betts, Alexander (with N Omata, L Bloom) (2015) 'Humanitarian Innovation and refugee protection'. In K Brennan (ed) Making Global Institutions Work , Oxford: Routledge
Betts, Alexander (2014) 'From Persecution to Deprivation: How Refugee Norms Adapt at Implementation'. In A Betts, P Orchard (eds) Implementation and World Politics: How International Norms Change Practice , Oxford: Oxford University Press
Betts, Alexander (with Phil Orchard) (2014) 'The Normative Institutionalization-implementation Gap'. In A Betts, P Orchard (eds) Implementation and World Politics: How International Norms Change Practice , Oxford: Oxford University Press
Betts, Alexander (2014) 'Survival Migration: Conflicting Refugee Identities in Africa'. In S Kneebone, D Stevens, L Baldassar (eds) Refugee Protection and the Role of Law: Conflicting Identities , London: Routledge
Betts, Alexander (2014) 'International Relations and Forced Migration'. In E Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, G Loescher, K Long, N Sigona (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies , Oxford: Oxford University Press
Betts, Alexander (2014) 'The Global Governance of Crisis Migration'. In S Martin, S Weerasinghe, A Taylor (eds) Humanitarian Crisis and Migration: Causes, Consequences and Responses , London: Routledge
Betts, Alexander (2014) 'Commentary: The UK and Immigration Policy'. In J Hollifield, P Martin, P Orrenius (eds) Controlling Immigration: A Global Perspective , Palo Alto: Stanford University Press
Betts, Alexander (2014) 'Commentary: The European Union and global migration governance'. In J Hollifield, P Martin, P Orrenius (eds) Controlling Immigration: A Global Perspective , Palo Alto: Stanford University Press
Betts, Alexander (2012) 'The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees: Autonomy and Mandate Change'. In J Oestreich (ed) International Organizations as Self-Directed Actors: A Framework for Analysis , London: Routledge
Betts, Alexander (2011) 'The Refugee Regime and Issue-Linkage'. In R Koslowski (ed) Global Mobility Regimes , Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Reports

Betts, Alexander (with C Costello, Natascha Zaun) (2017) 'A Fair Share: Refugees and Responsibility-Sharing', Delmi report 2017:10
Betts, Alexander (2016) 'Humanitarian Innovation: The State of the Art', OCHA Occasional Policy Paper United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Betts, Alexander (with Louise Bloom, Nina Weaver) (2015) 'Refugee Innovation: Humanitarian innovation that starts with communities', Oxford: Humanitarian Innovation Project
Betts, Alexander (with L Bloom, N Omata, Josiah Kaplan) (2014) 'Refugee Economies: Rethinking Popular Assumptions', Oxford: Humanitarian Innovation Project
22 June, 2022
Refugee-led Research Hub wins Vice Chancellor's diversity award
05 April, 2022
Loren Landau, Alexander Betts honoured with ISA awards
03 December, 2021
New Oxford SDG Impact Lab launched to help graduate students further sustainable development goals
25 November, 2021
New hub to support refugee-led research
19 November, 2021
Research on refugee-led social protection during COVID wins ESRC Outstanding International Impact award
02 November, 2021
RSC team nominated as finalists for ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize
20 May, 2021
New article from RSC explores international agencies' blindness to refugee cross-border activity
19 April, 2021
New article by Alexander Betts examines political history of Uganda’s ‘progressive’ refugee policies
27 April, 2021
Alexander Betts publishes new book on unlocking potential contribution of refugees
21 September, 2020
New article co-authored by Alexander Betts and Evan Easton-Calabria explores provision of assistance by refugees

Pages

21 Apr, 2022
'Will the Rwanda plan work?'. Alexander Betts outlines a brief history of failed attempts at offshoring/outsourcing asylum for BBC Radio 4's 'The Briefing Room'
19 Apr, 2022
'Asylum plan ignores viable alternatives'. Alex Betts co-authors piece for The Times in response to the UK's plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda
28 Mar, 2022
'The Ukraine crisis is a rare chance for Europe to create refugee policies fit for the twenty-first century'. Alexander Betts writes for Foreign Policy
11 Mar, 2022
'How many Ukrainian refugees can Europe receive?'. Alexander Betts particpates in discussion for Aljazeera's Inside Story
26 Nov, 2021
'This was a predictable and entirely avoidable tragedy'. Alexander Betts comments on the English Channel tragedy on Amanpour
26 Nov, 2021
'The UK needs to be serious about its commitment to provide asylum to desperate vulnerable people'. Alexander Betts comments on the English Channel tragedy for BBC World News
24 Jun, 2021
'The United States Can Afford More Refugees'. Alexander Betts draws on the experience of three African countries to suggest lessons for the US
12 May, 2021
'Refugee-Run Organizations Deserve More Money'. Alexander Betts quoted in Foreign Policy article
17 Apr, 2021
'Biden’s Refugee Policy Is a Profile in Cowardice'. Alex Betts quoted in Foreign Policy article
04 May, 2020
'Cash-based food assistance for refugees: lessons for the COVID-19 response'. Cory Rodgers, Alexander Betts, Olivier Sterck, Jade Siu and Maria Stierna of the RSC discuss cash-based food assistance for refugees, and the unintended consequence of debt accumulation

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Research interests:

International politics of asylum and migration, with particular regard to Sub-Saharan Africa