Refugee compacts are an innovative model to support refugee-hosting countries by leveraging development financing and beyond-aid approaches (e.g., trade and investment) to move beyond short-term humanitarian aid towards sustainable outcomes for refugees, host communities, and national development.
Dr. Cindy Huang will discuss how evidence, policy, and political factors play into negotiations around compact design and implementation, particularly policy reforms that increase refugees’ access to work. The first refugee compact in Jordan secured significant international support, including trade concessions and 200,000 work permits for Syrian refugees. In Ethiopia, a $500 million package aims to help build two new industrial parks and attract businesses to create tens of thousands of new jobs. While there have been significant challenges to implementation in both cases, their experiences provide important lessons on more sustainable approaches to protracted displacement. At a time when post World War II systems and norms are eroding, compacts can be an important method to align interests and incentives to uphold and even expand refugee protection.
Dr. Cindy Huang is vice president of strategic outreach at Refugees International and a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development. She develops and leads initiatives to build local, state, and national support for improved protection and outcomes for displaced people—both in the United States and around the world. As a senior executive in government and nonprofit sectors, Cindy has led major policy and outreach initiatives on pressing global issues, including forced displacement, food security, and conflict prevention. Previously, she was co-director of migration, displacement, and humanitarian policy, and senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, where she managed a team conducting research and outreach on more effective responses to protracted displacement. While in government, Cindy served as deputy vice president for sector operations at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, director of policy of the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, and senior advisor to the State Department’s counselor and chief of staff. In her latter role, Cindy managed and represented the interagency leadership team of Feed the Future, a presidential initiative launched by a $3.5 billion commitment to agricultural development and food security. Cindy has also worked for Doctors Without Borders in Kenya, South Sudan, and Nigeria, as well as the Human Development Center in Pakistan. She holds a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, a Master of Public Affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, and a Bachelor of Arts in Ethics, Politics and Economics from Yale University.