Good governance is essential to ensuring that refugees, investors, and host countries all benefit from refugee cities. These are potential characteristics of a well-governed refugee city:
1. Refugee cities would be governed by a dedicated regulatory authority that would most likely be administratively within the larger host-country government. Alternatively, a regional, supranational entity, such as the EU, or a collection of representatives from the host country and neighboring nations, could establish the regulatory authority.
2. The regulatory authority should be empowered to perform, in a streamlined and effective fashion, the traditional responsibilities of government, such as monitoring and enforcement of environmental, labor, immigration, customs, tax, and construction standards, including the licensing of businesses. (A dedicated authority like this has proven effective at improving the business environment in special economic zones, which are a related concept discussed in our precedents section).
3. The regulatory authority should also oversee the infrastructure development company and other service providers to ensure compliance with international norms, local laws, and contractual obligations.
4. The regulatory authority should ensure the provision and impartiality of law enforcement, courts, and dispute resolution, either in collaboration with the host country government or by itself.
5. Depending on how the regulatory authority is administratively situated, different entities – such as NGOs, human rights organizations, governments, refugees, and business owners – could appoint representatives to a board to oversee the regulatory authority and ensure the rule of law and the respect of basic human rights.
6. Residents and businesses in the settlements should have a voice in the actions of the regulatory authority through residents associations, workers associations, business associations, elections, community meetings, and the like.
7. Refugees themselves should occupy decision-making positions within the regulatory authority. This should equip and position refugees to be key leaders in the rebuilding of their home countries when they are able to return.