RECAP project

Research capacity strengthening and knowledge generation to support preparedness and response to humanitarian crises and epidemics

RLI focus: Accountability & Protection in Forced Displacement Contexts


This research project addresses the legal and other frameworks of accountability for humanitarian actors, focusing on protection in relation to displaced populations in crisis contexts.

RECAP is a four-year research project that started in 2018, focusing on the health and protection sectors in humanitarian response. Its purpose is to conduct research and strengthen research capacity to help improve decision-making and accountability in response to humanitarian crises. RECAP is a partnership between universities in the United Kingdom, Sierra Leone and Lebanon, along with leading humanitarian NGOs including Save the Children, Médecins Sans Frontières and the International Rescue Committee. RECAP is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

Within the RECAP project, the Refugee Law Initiative (RLI) leads research on protection and accountability for humanitarian organisations. 

Project Team, Partners and Funders

Further Information

Research Activities

The research is developed through the following inter-related strands of analysis:

  • Accountability concepts – developing an improved understanding of accountability and its place and implications in humanitarian work, including: the relationships between concepts of accountability in the humanitarian field and more widely; relationships with concepts such as participation, and; relationships with specific forms of institutional organisation and collaboration between humanitarian actors (e.g. ‘outsourcing’ and the ‘cluster’ system);
  • Legal/policy frameworks – developing an improved understanding of the legal and policy aspects of accountability for humanitarian organisations, using legal research methods to identify the parameters and implications of international law for framing accountability in protection work by humanitarian actors with refugee and IDP populations; assessing how accountability concepts and mechanisms used by International Organisations and  humanitarian actors intersect with national laws, policies and mechanisms for justice/accountability; and evaluating selected accountability mechanisms utilised by major humanitarian actors in their protection work with refugee/IDP populations;
  • Accountability in policy and practice – developing an improved insight into the ways in which legal/policy accountability concepts and mechanisms function in practice through empirical field research in selected countries with affected populations, humanitarian actors and others engaged in protection work.
Knowledge Exchange Activities 
  •  Legal/policy guidance – developing practical legal/policy guidance on accountability in humanitarian crises in collaboration with humanitarian organisations;
  • Academic-practitioner exchangesdeveloping joint academic projects that bring together legal/protection and health perspectives on responding to humanitarian crises;
  • Knowledge exchange eventshosting a range of academic events bringing together  academia, humanitarian practitioners and students to share research and facilitate discussions on accountability and protection in humanitarian crisis contexts;
  • Knowledge exchange and creation partnerships – supporting knowledge exchange and creating partnerships with universities, policy and research institutions and humanitarian organisations to promote research on accountability and protection in the humanitarian crisis;
  • Institutional reviewsbuilding the capacity of health-focused academic partner institutions through institutional reviews of taught courses to strengthen the legal/protection (and refugee studies) aspects, encouraging interdisciplinarity through such engagement.


Case Study: Child Participation and Accountability in Save the Children Colombia’s Programming

Research conducted by the Refugee Law Initiative (RLI), as part of the RECAP project, has been instrumental in developing Save the Children Colombia’s approach to child participation and accountability for displaced populations. In October 2019, the RLI published a report, drawing on research exploring how Save the Children Colombia engages migrant, refugee and displaced children in decisions about their activities, programmes and planning across the country.

A resulting three-day workshop, hosted collaboratively by the Refugee Law Initiative, Save the Children Colombia and Save the Children UK, drew together more than thirty staff participants from Save the Children field offices across Colombia. The workshop was an opportunity for joint knowledge production and engagement with the recommendations brought together by the RLI report.

The workshop outcomes aim to impact practice on the ground in the short and long term, and include a commitment by Save the Children Colombia to launch a new ‘Accountability and Child Participation Strategy’ for their country context, drawing directly on the findings of the RLI research study. In response to the research findings, Save the Children Colombia are also establishing accountability and child participation ‘Champions’ located in each Save the Children Colombia field office, and new child-friendly complaints and feedback mechanisms in all field offices relevant to the full portfolio of activities and programmes.

A full version of the report in English and Spanish can be found here (English) and here (Spanish), and the Summary of Findings (Spanish) can be found here.