Between Locally Led Response and Domestic Blame Avoidance: Dilemmas in the Management of Syrians in Turkey


Siyasal: Journal of Political Sciences (Online) , vol.32, no.1, pp.75-94, 2023 (ESCI) identifier identifier


Based on observations and unstructured interviews with key actors conducted in Turkey in 2019 and 2020, this study considers the dynamics of sovereignty and transnational cooperation in the management of forced migration. We focus in particular on the question: to what extent can humanitarian governance and host-country social protection schemes converge? The 2016 humanitarian summit recommended a model of international humanitarian governance in which social policy instruments and actors should be given greater weight in humanitarian management. In this paper, we use the case of humanitarian assistance to Syrians under temporary protection in Turkey to test the limits of this policy shift. We argue that as long as supporting forced migrants from public resources is seen as an undesirable action by voters, host country governments must balance implementation of this internationally established norm with attention to “blame avoidance.” “Avoiding blame is the main obstacle preventing the full convergence of humanitarian aid instruments with national social protection instruments.