The ERC Starting Grant is aimed at researchers in the early stages of their career and has scientific excellence as its sole selection criterion. Researchers will receive €1.5 million each over five years.
Can you tell us a bit about your project?
The project "Refugee Finance: Histories, Frameworks, Practices" will examine financial instruments used to fund humanitarian responses to refugee situations. Traditionally, humanitarian organizations have relied on development or humanitarian aid. But due to global aid cuts, new avenues are now being explored.
Can you really invest in refugee protection?
The idea of refugee finance is that you can invest in financial instruments such as social impact bonds that support refugee projects and receive a return if the projects succeed. However, it is complex and there are risks that this affects the focus and objectives of humanitarian organizations. And that it might ultimately change the legal understanding of international protection. The project will explore this complexity.
What do you hope to achieve with the project?
The aim is to understand how these financial instruments work in practice, how they change our understanding of refugee protection, and how they affect international law and humanitarian organizations. It has the potential to influence policy at both national and international levels, especially as similar attempts to attract private capital in the development and climate contexts have proved unsustainable.
What are the practical uses of the results?
It is a critical time for this topic as these instruments are becoming increasingly popular but are not yet properly understood or challenged. So far, they have mostly been discussed by investment banks and financial institutions. It is important to explore this now, before these instruments become so ingrained that they cannot be critically evaluated.
What does this ERC grant mean to you?
The ERC Starting Grant is very prestigious and gives me the resources and interdisciplinary team I need to thoroughly explore this complex and important topic. We bring in different perspectives such as history, finance, and law. It is also particularly exciting because this is the first time an ERC Starting Grant has been awarded to a law department in Sweden.