Dr Phil Orchard

Expertise: Asylum seekers, refugees, war-affected civilians, humanitarian efforts, international aid, forced migrants

School of Humanities and Social Inquiry

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Dr Orchard is an expert on international refugee matters and humanitarian efforts.

The Associate Professor of International Relations focuses his research on the international response to refugees, forced migrants, and war-affected civilians.

Dr Orchard studies international actors including the United Nations, other international and non-governmental organisations, and states.

He has investigated how these actors can help to protect and assist refugees, internally displaced persons, and war-affected civilians.

He has studied the challenges of counting forced migrants, and the improvements in the reliability of data, technologies and registration methods.

Dr Orchard has studied the factors that influence refugees’ decision to return to their country of origin.

Dr Orchard has looked into international cooperation, and why some states choose to protect refugees. 

He has written about the emergence and evolution of norms around refugee protection. He has studied international norms in world politics, and specifically how these norms change and adapt at implementation. Dr Orchard examined treaty norms, principle norms, and policy norms across policy fields that include refugees, internal displacement, crimes against humanity, the use of mercenaries, humanitarian assistance, aid transparency, civilian protection, and the responsibility to protect.

One of his current research projects looks at why governments increasingly use force to deliberately displace their own populations on a massive scale. Using a mix of research sources, this project explains why such actions have become rational strategies for regimes to respond to ethnic groups which may be a threat to them politically. He explains how these regimes try to justify their behaviour to thwart or delay international action. Dr Orchard suggests this form of displacement can lead to state fragility and regional instability, pointing to Darfur and Syria.

He has appeared on a variety of Australian television and radio news programs, including ABC’s The Drum, ABC News 24, ABC The World Today, Sky News National News, and has had pieces published by ABC News, CNN International, and The Hill.com and contributes regularly to The Conversation.