Just as the fabric of policies are changing through technology and innovation, as we argue in our research on technology-leveraged policy, the constitution of 'governance' is also changing. We have worked with institutions from around the world to study how the reach of law and jurisdiction is changing our conceptualisations of the nation state and international institutions.
Governing information on refugees in the United Nations
Refugees are by nature individuals who are lacking the protections afforded to citizens of most countries around the world. That is, they are not granted rights within the jurisdiction of their own government, and so they seek refuge elsewhere. Even more challenging is that when the UN High Commissioner for Refugees offers services to these refugees, the UNHCR too lacks sovereignty as staff members operate in refugee camps in other countries. UNHCR approached us in February 2008 to ask for advice on the use of biometrics in a number of refugee camps. We were later appointed as external evaluators and were invited to review their information management practices in the field by travelling to Asia and Eastern Africa to evaluate their practices, the technology, and the political environment. We visited refugee camps and centres in Malaysia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya that included extensive research meetings with UNHCR staff, refugees, and high-level host government officials. We advised the UNHCR on their own internal evaluation report, and provided UNHCR with a 'privacy impact assessment' that identified a number of challenges and risks to their practices. We delivered the PIA in April 2009 and hope to continue this relationship with UNHCR to review their general information management practices later in 2009 and 2010.
Governing information flows and the Internet
The Internet provides another situation where there are complex relationships between global flows and national laws. For a number of years we have been advising and participating in the United Nations processes around Internet governance. We started this project by running a public meeting at the LSE on the issue in June 2006. This public meeting brought together UN experts, international academics, and civil society because we felt that there was a strong need for an open forum for development and rights experts and groups to engage with experts and officials regarding policy challenges for the information society, building on the Tunis Agenda developed at the World Summit on the Information Society. Following on from this, we have spoken at plenary sessions and have run workshops and meetings at the meetings of the UN 'Internet Governance Forum', in Athens in October 2006, Rio de Janeiro in November 2007, and Hyderabad in December 2008. Our workshops bring together multiple stakeholders and institutions, including governments, leading companies, academics, and international institutions to discuss issues relating to security, data protection, and the regulation of global data flows.
UK Constitutional Reform
In late 2006 we began a project to review the paths forward for Constitutional Reform in the United Kingdom. We met individually with the political parties, and held subsequent discussions with key organisations, academics, and lawyers. In June 2007 the Government announced its intentions to study constitutional reform, and we were well positioned to be of assistance to ensure that there was cross-party collaboration. We hosted the largest public meeting to date on British constitutional change, held at the LSE in July 2007. It was the only forum that brought together the three major parties, along with a number of key experts and academics from around the world along with over 400 members of the public. We have followed up with subsequent meetings with ministers, experts, and officials.
Our other research areas