Forced Migration and Human Rights Protection in

Susan Kneebone,
Faculty of Law, Monash University
The situation of Refugee Protection in
Southeast Asia
Three Actors and their Norms:
◦ Bali Process
◦ ASEAN and ASEAN Human Rights Declaration
◦ Asian African Legal Consultative Organisation
(AACLO) and the ‘Bangkok Principles on the Status
and Treatment of Refugees’ 2001
See ‘The Bali Process and Global Refugee
Policy in the Asia-Pacific Region’ Special
Edition of the Journal of Refugee Studies on
Global Refugee Policy, 2014;
‘ASEAN and the Conceptualisation of Refugee
protection’ in Abass A. and Ippolito, F., et al
eds., Regional Approaches to the Protection
of Asylum Seekers: An International Legal
Perspective (Ashgate 2014) Chapter 13,
UNHCR: ‘geopolitics and national security
issues prevail over humanitarian
considerations’ (UNHCR 2012).
The protection environment is fragile; very
few countries in the region have acceded to
the 1951 Refugee Convention. (UNHCR 2011)
Protracted and ‘mass-influx’ situations,
extra-regional \ urban refugees, high levels
of statelessness
‘the last frontier’ of regional cooperation’
Comprehensive Plan of
Action for IndoChinese refugees 1989
◦ ASEAN countries provided
‘first’ \ temporary asylum
◦ In exchange for third
country resettlement
A global North solution
for the global South?
Vienna World Conference
on Human Rights
Rights of refugees and
displaced persons,
collectively known as
‘vulnerable’ persons
Linked to inequalities in
development between
the global North and the
global South
The 1993 Bangkok Declaration
Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking
in Persons and Related Transnational Crime
Regional Consultative Processes (RCPs) on
irregular migration dating from 1996
1999 Bangkok Declaration on Irregular
A securitised discourse on ‘irregular migration’ \
secondary movements
State led, excludes civil society representation
Reflects Australia’s national policy on asylum seekers:
eg the Malaysia-Swap agreement 2011
Limited actors and a narrow discourse which reflects
a hierarchical agenda-setting process or ‘steering
Limited application of International Refugee
Protection (IRP) norms … asylum and burden-sharing
But note recent initiatives of Indonesia and UNHCR
outside the Process
Article 35 of the ASEAN Charter :
‘ASEAN shall promote its common ASEAN
identity and a sense of belonging among its
peoples in order to achieve its shared destiny,
goals and values’
ASEAN Political-Security Community (‘APSC’)
ASEAN Economic Community (‘AEC’)
ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (‘ASCC’).
Creation of ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human
Rights (‘AICHR’) – a work in progress
Refugee issues situated within the APSC
Which covers ‘traditional’ and ‘non-traditional’ security or
‘transboundary challenges’
◦ The meaning of ‘traditional’ – direct threats
◦ The meaning of ‘non-traditional’ – indirect threats eg the
environment, development gaps
Refugees associated with ‘post-conflict peace building’
But parallel discourse focussed on development and ‘human
Article 2:
2. Every person is entitled to the rights and freedoms
set forth herein, without distinction of any kind, such
as race, gender, age, language, religion, political or
other opinion, national or social origin, economic
status, birth, disability or other status.
Article 35: the right to development
Article 22: the right ‘to freedom of thought,
conscience and religion’.
Article 15: right ‘to freedom of movement ..’
Article 16: the right to seek and receive asylum in
another State in accordance with the laws of such
State and applicable international agreements
Outcome of the Asian African or ‘1955
Bandung Conference’ held in Indonesia
Bangkok Principles 1966 \ reaffirmed 2001
Contain the ‘expanded’ definition of the OAU
Convention 1974
And strong statements re burden sharing
Principles of refugee protection given a
regional normative basis?
UNHCR’s ‘humanitarian’ role within this
mechanism …
Refugees a ‘Northern’ and securitised concept
State-led processes
UNHCR’s mediating role between states and
civil society
Seen as promoting ‘humanitarian’ outcomes
rather than human rights
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