Credible Commitments and Post-Conflict Refugee Return: A Statistical and Network Analysis

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I examine determinants of refugee return after conflicts. I argue that institutional constraints placed on the executive provide a credible commitment that signals to refugees that the conditions required for durable return will be created. This results in increased return flows for refugees. Further, when credible commitments are stronger in the country of origin than in the country of asylum, the level of return increases. Finally, I find that specific commitments made to refugees in the peace agreement do not lead to increased return because they are not credible without institutional constraints. Using data on returnees that has only recently been made available, along with network analysis and an original coding of the provisions in refugee agreements, statistical results are found to support this theory. An examination of cases in Djibouti, Sierra Leone, and Liberia provides additional support for this argument.