Beyond policy domains: Governance architectures as a theoretical framework for understanding the challenges facing Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and Australia

Research output: Contribution to conference (non-published works)Paper


Forced migration is necessarily an international problem as refugees seeking security outside of the country of origin interact with jurisdictions both within and beyond the borders of sovereign nation-states. Although several principles outlined by the United Nations inform the global framework in relation to refugees, the framework is fragmented by various other levels of governance and only applies (at international law) to signatories to the Convention. In the cases of Jordan and Lebanon, this framework does not apply. However, intervention and funding by the United Nations and other international non-government organisations can impose conditions on host nations in an attempt to comply with international human rights law or contemporary ideas about human rights in relation to the treatment of refugees. As refugee status typically requires the individual to be outside of their home country, the various jurisdictions that a refugee may encounter represent a fragmented field of policy, including the global, international, regional, national, municipal, and local levels. Further, in addition to their families and social circles, individuals are influenced by the rules and regulations of non-government organisations and community-based organisations. Given the absence of sovereignty outside the nation-state, the policy domain for refugees is necessarily fragmented and complex, and state-based theoretical approaches to understanding the institutional frameworks that Syrian refugees encounter tend to produce results that reproduce the bureaucracy, rather than address the longer-term needs of refugees. This paper develops the concept of ‘governance architectures’ as a theoretical lens for analysing complex policy problems that relate to refugees existing outside the traditional nation-state. The concept has been developed to analyse data collected from semi-structured interviews with approximately 100 Syrian refugee women and 30 humanitarian workers in Australia, Lebanon, and Jordan from 2018 to 2019. The paper also discusses the theoretical concept’s usefulness in understanding peace-building in a post-conflict Syria.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2019
EventAustralian Political Studies Association Conference 2019 - Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 22 Sept 201925 Sept 2019 (Conference webpage)


ConferenceAustralian Political Studies Association Conference 2019
Abbreviated titleAPSA 2019
Internet address


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