Making Sense of the Global: 

A Systematic Review of Globalizing and Localizing Dynamics in Refugee Governance


What does the research literature on refugee and asylum migration tell us about the impact of global norms and standards on the protection of asylum-seekers and refugees? Do we see the effective reach of global standards or do we see responses to be dependent on ‘local’ contexts? We conducted a systematic review of the literature across six case countries on two key issues in contemporary refugee governance: ‘mobility’ and ‘containment’. After coding 252 documents, we found that while ‘the global’ has an important normative and aspirational resonance and is an identified source of rights expansion and increased mobility, there is significant evidence for the ‘localisation’ of global standards on asylum and refugee protection. This has important implications for the diffusion of global norms and standards. Our results also reveal a strong focus in the research literature on ‘containment’ policies and on the role of state actors in developing these policies.