Prof Alexander Betts

Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs

Alexander Betts is Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs, William Golding Senior Fellow in Politics at Brasenose College, and Associate Head (Doctoral and Research Training) of the Social Science Division, at the University of Oxford. He served as Director of the Refugee Studies Centre between 2014 and 2017.

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
Refugees in international relations
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UNHCR and international cooperation
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Refugee economies in Uganda: creating new market-based opportunities
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Survival migration: refugee or voluntary migrant?
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The politics of the Syrian refugee crisis
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Refugee economies
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Alexander Betts teaches the Introduction to the Study of Forced Migration course for the MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies.

Research Students supervised

Evan Easton-Calabria
Early Career Fellow, Rethinking Refuge
Muireann Meehan Speed
Research Student
Angela Pilath
Research Student
Samuel Ritholtz
Research Student (PRS)

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 (2015) 'The normative terrain of the global refugee regime', Ethics & International Affairs 29 (4) 363-75
Betts, Alexander (with Gil Loescher) (2014) 'Introduction: Continuity and Change in Global Refugee Policy', Refugee Survey Quarterly 33 (1) 1-7
Betts, Alexander (with Gil Loescher) (eds) (2014) 'Special Issue: Emerging Issues in Refugee Policy Around the World', Refugee Survey Quarterly 33 (1)
Betts, Alexander (2013) 'Regime Complexity and International Organizations: UNHCR as a Challenged Institution', Global Governance 19 69-81
Betts, Alexander (2010) 'Soft Law and Vulnerable Migrants', Georgetown Journal of Immigration Law 24(4)
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 (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
14 March, 2019
RSC publishes new research brief on Venezuelan migration to Colombia
04 February, 2019
'Refuge' shortlisted for Estoril Global Issues Distinguished Book Prize 2019
22 January, 2019
New RSC report assesses impact of Uganda's self-reliance strategy for refugees
25 October, 2018
Alexander Betts gives evidence to House of Commons International Development Committee
20 August, 2018
New RSC report compares self-reliance and aid models in two Kenya refugee settlements
24 April, 2018
Alexander Betts sets marathon record to raise money for refugee charity
20 April, 2018
RSC, OPHI teams Highly Commended for impact in new O2RB awards
20 February, 2018
What difference does it make to be a refugee? RSC publishes new report on Refugee Economies in Kenya
04 January, 2018
New RSC report explores 'responsibility-sharing' in global refugee regime
01 December, 2017
New RSC article explores variation in economic outcomes for refugees

Pages

27 Feb, 2019
'Why Venezuelan migrants need to be regarded as refugees'. Alexander Betts writes for IRIN
23 Nov, 2018
'Refuge, Reformed'. Alex Betts writes about innovations in Kenyan refugee camps for Foreign Policy
05 Oct, 2018
'How Europe Can Reform Its Migration Policy'. Alexander Betts and Paul Collier write in Foreign Affairs
06 Jul, 2018
'Fear versus reality when it comes to migration'. Alexander Betts interviewed on CNN's Amanpour
27 Jun, 2018
'What Europe could learn from the way Africa treats refugees'. Alexander Betts writes for the Guardian
22 Feb, 2018
'Don’t Make African Nations Borrow Money to Support Refugees'. Alexander Betts writes for Foreign Policy
20 Feb, 2018
'Kenyan study sheds new light on gap between refugees and host communities'. Alexander Betts writes for The Conversation
21 Jan, 2018
'In an illiberal world order, we need new ways to defend human rights'. Alexander Betts writes for the Observer
15 Dec, 2017
The Jordan Compact – 'an extraordinary pilot from which there will be many lessons'. Alexander Betts quoted in Guardian about a scheme to facilitate employment of Syrian refugees in Jordan
09 Oct, 2017
'Refugees good for the economy'. Alexander Betts interviewed on ABC Radio National

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Research interests:

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