Subproject 5

Subproject 5:

International Organisations: Norm Setting and Norm Implementation for the Protection of Forced Migrants

Principal Investigator:
Dr Nele Kortendiek (Goethe University)

Melina Tretmans , M.Sc. (Goethe University)

International Organisations (IOs), especially the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), play an important role in providing assistance and protection for forced migrants. The mandates and the evolution of both of these IOs reflect the tension between the interests of individual states, on the one hand, and the rights of migrants on the other. This tension is inherent in all policies pertaining to transnational mobility and flight migration. At the same time, the IOs cooperate both at the conceptual level and in connection with the implementation of programmes and policies. However, we lack knowledge on whether and how the tension between interests of states and migrants’ rights is also reflected in the IOs’ policies, programmes and actions. Accordingly, this project investigates how these IOs interpret international norms, as norm interpretation provides IOs with room to manoeuvre in following up particular interests. We inquire (a) whether and to what extent the IOs interpret international norms in accordance with state interests or migrant rights, and (b) whether and to what extent we can observe differences or alignments between the IOs and different organisational levels. For this purpose, the project studies the internalisation and implementation of gender norms and disability norms, understood as processes of institutionalisation within the IOs both at the level of the IOs’ headquarters and at field level. Here, the project makes use of qualitative interviews and qualitative content analysis. The project has two main goals. On the one hand, it seeks to reconstruct the ways in which the two IOs understand international norms. On the other, it sets out to explain norm interpretation in the IOs with reference to a theoretical framework based on two broad strands of literature in International Relations as a sub-discipline of political science. These strands are research on international norms and research on inter-organisational relations. The project contributes to the field of transnational institution building by taking into account the relationships between two exogenous institutions.

Members of subproject 5

Dr Nele Kortendiek

Principal Investigator (TP5)


Melina Tretmans, M.Sc.

Researcher (TP5)


Michael Hißen

Research Assistant TP5

Ann-Sophie Lorych

Research Assistant TP5