In this study, we analyze resettlement programs for refugees in eight countries, highlighting the similarities and differences regarding their selection criteria and practices. The United Nations (UN) resettlement program has attracted increased attention in several resettlement countries over the last five years. Some reasons for this are the falling numbers of asylum arrivals and the increasing resettlement refugee quotas. This is the case in Norway, which constitutes the baseline case for our analysis.
Based on more than 50 in-depth interviews with Norwegian civil servants, non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives, UNHCR staff, and governmental representatives from the countries included in the comparative analysis—along with document studies and an international ad-hoc query— we find that all countries wrestle with balancing principles and pragmatism in their selection practices. That is, although they aim to select those refugees who are most vulnerable, they are also taking into consideration the refugees’ future integration or, at least, their ability to cope in the host society.