Welcome to APRRN’s fourth and final newsletter for the year! As 2017 comes to a close, we’d like to thank all our members, supporters and friends for making this year so incredibly worthwhile. It is only with such support that APRRN can continue to flourish and continue to push for greater refugee protection across our region. With that, please enjoy reading APRRN’s updates from the past few months and some of the key opportunities with which we’ve been engaged. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year break and we look forward to seeing you again in 2018!

If you have any questions or comments please email Evan at Evan@aprrn info.


  • APRRN Webinar: ‘The New York Declaration Turns One’ (October 2017)
  • East Asia Working Group Consultation (October 2017)
  • Short Course on Refugee Rights and Advocacy (November 2017)
  • APRRN’s Annual Steering Committee Retreat (November 2017)
  • Regional Roundtable on Judicial Engagement for Southeast Asia (December 2017)


  • IFRC-NGO-UNHCR-CRRF Reference Group Meeting (September 2017)
  • Solidarity for ASEAN Peoples Advocacy (SAPA) Midyear Meeting (October 2017)
  • 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Thematic Consultations for the Global Compact on Refugees (October 2017)
  • Taiwan Advocacy and Outreach (October 2017)
  • Towards a Global Responsibility Sharing Mechanism in the CRRF (October 2017)
  • ASEAN People’s Forum (November 2017)
  • Philippines Outreach and Advocacy (November 2017)
  • Asia-Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (November 2017)
  • Workshop and Seminar to Support the Development of a National Screening Mechanism in Thailand (November 2017)


  • 50 Years of ASEAN: The Development Paradigm
  • APRRN in the Media
  • APRRN’s Organisational Review
  • Upcoming Events



19th September 2017 marked 1 year since the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a set of commitments to enhance the protection of refugees and migrants. These commitments are today known as the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The New York Declaration reaffirms the importance of the international refugee regime and represents a commitment by Member States to strengthen and enhance mechanisms to protect people on the move.

On the 9th of October, APRRN’s Regional Protection Working Group hosted a webinar titled “The New York Declaration Turns One: RPWG Webinar on GCR and GCM”. The Webinar updated APRRN’s members about APRRN’s current engagement thus far with the various global processes and the future anticipated interactions. Topics of discussion included the Global Compact for Refugees, the Global Compact on Migration, current global trends and ‘ways forward for engagement’. The Webinar also acted as a platform for members to ask questions and to see how they could be further involved in the two global compacts in the future.


On 24 – 25 October 2017, APRRN held the East Asia Working Group Consultations in Taipei, Taiwan, which was attended by 19 participants from 5 different countries. The aim of such consultations is to provide an opportunity to discuss latest developments and develop more in-depth strategies for APRRN members. The event also served as a networking and collaboration opportunity for APRRN members.22792367_1450428561740132_8319674413849733830_o

Discussions during the 1 ½ day consultations were centered around three key issues in the East Asian region; I) Low Recognition Rates, II) Engaging with governments and III) Xenophobia & Racism, and how to advanced APRRN’s advocacy strategy in addressing these issues.

During the 1 ½ day consultations, APRRN members from Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Mongolia shared updates on the current refugee situation in their countries, and provided overviews of the main issues and core areas of advocacy of their respective organisations. Members also shared insight of the conditions in their countries related to the three core issues, which included examples of lessons learned and good practices and models that they have employed.

As APRRN has had a specific focus on Taiwan over the past year due to the pending refugee legislation in the Legislative Yuan, the consultations were also an opportunity to evaluate the progress so far and discuss the work of EAWG in progressing the adoption of the law. The consultations were concluded with a wrapping up session that aimed to consolidate key points and strategies for moving forward.


APRRN’s sixth annual short course, focusing on Advocacy and Refugee Rights, was held from 27-30 November Bangkok, Thailand. The aim of the course was to strengthen participants’ understanding of forced migration in the Asia Pacific through a human rights perspective and to also strengthen participants’ capacity and knowledge in advocating for the rights of refugees in this region. The course was delivered through a combination of lectures, case studies and small group work.

shortcourse2017Caroline Stover from the Center for Asylum Protection, Kalpalata Dutta from Mahidol University’s Institute for Human Rights and Peace Studies (IHRP) and APRRN’s Chair Yio
mbi Thona were the main course facilitators. Other resource persons came from UNHCR, Human Rights W
atch and other regionally based NGOs. Twenty-four participants from Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, South
Korea, Taiwan and Thailand joined the course. Participants brought with that a wide variety of
personal and professional backgrounds and group work provided ample opportunity for hands-on application of the daily topics. The APRRN Secretariat is currently in the process of developing a final report from the course which will be available on the APRRN website in early 2018.


The 2017 APRRN Steering Committee Retreat was held on 18-19 November 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand. In addition to the majority of APRRN Steering Committee members being in attendance, APRRN’s three Thai members also attended the retreat. The meeting provided an opportunity for respective working group chairs to update the Steering Committee on their activities to date and to garner feedback from their colleagues as to their plans for engagement in 2018. In addition, the Secretariat gave a number of updates on relevant programmatic and operational issues such as APRRN’s legal registration, the 2018 Operational Plan 2018 and budgetary issues. Discussions on other key issues such as the ‘Rohingya Crisis’ and alternative income generation models were also held.

Finally, a consultant who is currently undertaking APRRN’s Organisational Review also attended the retreat. His attendance provided a unique opportunity for him to interview many of the Steering Committee members in attendance and to also run a series of group work discussions focusing on APRRN’s past achievements.


On 6-7 December 2017, 38 participants from Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand attended a Regional Roundtable on Judicial Engagement for Southeast Asia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Roundtable was co-organised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Global Learning Centre and the Division for International Protection (DIP), the International Detention Coalition (IDC) and APRRN. Funding came from The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) project and APRRN. The main objective of the Roundtable was to build capacity in, and raise awareness of human rights standards and refugee law with a focus on asylum and refugee cases. In particular, the roundtable aimed at building essential knowledge and skills on judicial engagement and strategic litigation in relation to immigration detention with a particular focus on refugee and asylum-seeking children in detention.

During the first day of the event, an overview of immigration detention, alternatives to detention and children’s rights in the region were provided. A panel discussion was held with two participants sharing their experiences on two cases where they employed strategic litigation, focusing on identifying immigration detention issues, client selection and gathering evidence for the case. In the afternoon, the main concepts and rationale behind judicial engagement and strategic litigation were outlined and components of developing and implementing a litigation strategy, examples of how strategic litigation lead to changes in policy and legislation and models of intervention and tactics for successful litigation were presented and discussed.

Day 2 focused on networking and collaboration as components of successful strategic litigation, identifying key stakeholders and partners and the role of engaging the public and media. In two panels, participants highlighted cases where these elements had been instrumental to the success of their cases, and discussions were had on how to determine when media should or should not be engaged. The afternoon sessions of the Roundtables had the participants start developing litigation strategies for their respective countries. The groups were asked to identify issues for potential strategic litigation, including at least one relating to children, to map out key stakeholders for networking and collaboration, as well as examine existing partnerships and coalitions, the sustainability of these, ways of building and strengthening them and finally to consider and develop strategies for engaging local communities, the public and media outreach.

The Regional Roundtable served as a ‘kick-off’ event, and provided an opportunity for strengthening existing, and mobilising further capacity of stakeholders with knowledge on, and experience in international refugee law, immigration detention as well as engaging new stakeholders with an interest in engaging in strategic litigation in the 3 focus countries. It is envisioned that national-level workshops will be convened in 2018, to build on the momentum gained through holding the Regional Roundtable. APRRN and IDC will continue to engage with and collaborate with UNHCR to ensure that the national workshops are realised, as part of a common strategy towards ending detention of children, promoting alternatives to detention and ensuring that, in instances where detention is lawful and unavoidable, conditions meet international standards.



From 25-26 September 2017, APRRN’s Chair Yiombi Thona and the Deputy Chair of the Regional Protection Working Group Tamara Domicelj travelled to Amman, Jordan to participate in the IFRC-NGO-UNHCR-CRRF Reference Group Meeting. This invitation only event, provided a unique opportunity for members of the reference group to share experiences from the various regions and conduct detailed discussions as to the practical application of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF). Other topics of discussion included integrating refugee participation into advocacy, joint NGO/IFRC/UNHCR CRRF advocacy, community visits and sharing of best practices.


On 15–16 October 2017, APRRN attended the Solidarity for ASEAN Peoples Advocacy (SAPA) Midyear Meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia. SAPA is a network of regional and national civil society organizations that do joint strategizing and action in engaging the ASEAN, which APRRN has been a member of for many years. The objective of the Midyear meeting was to review and assess the impact of SAPA’s joint advocacy efforts in 2017, its advocacy and CSO engagement with the ASEAN Human Rights mechanisms, in particular with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission for Human Rights (AICHR) and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC).

The event also provided an opportunity for SAPA members to exchange information and share knowledge on their ASEAN engagement, to discuss and assess the shrinking of civic spaces and deteriorating human rights conditions in ASEAN and to strengthen and maintain the coordination between SAPA members and partners.

During the 2-day meeting, discussions were had on SAPA’s involvement in CSOs forum, particularly the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF) that was held in November 2017 in Manila, Philippines. A draft work plan covering 2017 to September 2018 was developed during the Midyear meeting. The work plan includes further development of SAPA’s engagement with the ASEAN Human Rights mechanisms, developing a Joint CSO Proposal of Recommendations for the first interface meeting between AICHR and CSOs as part of the ASEAN Round Table Dialogue (RTD) on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD), and developing a Joint Statement on the Rohingya crisis.


In September 2016, the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants was unanimously endorsed by 193 UN Member States, calling for the development of a Global Compact for Refugees (GCR), led by UNHCR, and a Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), led by IOM. The pathways to development of the two Global Compacts are separate, with some points of intersection reflected in the components of the NYD which relate both to refugees and migrants.

UNHCR convened a series of 5 thematic discussions as a part of the development of the “Global Compact on Refugees” to identify measures that could be included in a programme of action that will accompany the “CRRF,” or Annex 1 to the New York Declaration.  These were all convened in Geneva and held at the Palais des Nations.

On 17-18 October 2017, UNHCR convened the 2nd and 3rd Thematic Discussions “Measures to be taken at the onset of a large movement of refugees” AND “Meeting needs and supporting communities.”  UNHCR Released a “Concept Paper” (, and APRRN made a written submission responding to the UNHCR Concept Paper in the context of the Rohingya Refugee Crisis (Our written submission can be found at:

APRRN highlighted the importance of networks (global, regional, and national), and long-term collaborative engagement around capacity development to develop a holistic network and systems for the identification of protection needs and capacity for all relevant cross referrals.  APRRN also highlighted the importance of facilitating high-quality, ethical, and sensitive interpretation and translation services.

Most importantly in the context of the Rohingya Refugee Crisis, APRRN highlighted the need for far greater capacity for rapid and predictable humanitarian response, at scale, and for strengthened collaboration, responsibility-sharing and planning for solutions from the onset of a crisis.  We reinforced points made by others about the importance of national and local level capacity development, and engagement of a wide network of stakeholders, particularly local ones who will remain after the crisis is over, and the refugee communities themselves in the humanitarian response.

On 14-15 November 2017, UNHCR convened the 4th and 5th Thematic Discussions “Measures to be taken in the pursuit of solutions, in accordance with the final section of the CRRF” AND “Issues that cut across all four substantive sections of the comprehensive refugee response, and overarching issues.”  APRRN was represented at these two thematic discussions by Tamara Domicelj. An APRRN Submission was also made and can be found at


From 26 – 28 October 2017, an APRRN delegation composed of refugee experts, judges, lawyers and civil society activists gathered in Taipei, Taiwan to build upon APRRN’s previous activities with the objective to build momentum required for the passage of Taiwan’s draft refugee law.

22792484_1450548511728137_9220012125166650845_oOn the 26 October, the delegation had the opportunity to meet with, and engage in open and frank discussions with the Vice-President of the Legislative Yuan and members of parliament on a number of issues, including refugee protection systems and ethical practices in Refugee Status Determination processes.

On the 27 October, members of the APRRN delegation also attended, and made an intervention during the Legislative Yuan’s review of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, reiterating the obligation of Taiwan to respect the principle of non-refoulement in line with its adoption of the ICCPR into domestic law.

During the 27 – 28 October, the delegation conducted a number of trainings for National Immigration Agency personnel and judges to build national capacity for successful implementation of the refugee law. Complementing the bilateral meetings and trainings, an East Asia Refugee Forum, hosted by Soochow University’s Human Rights Program was also held. The aim was to raise public awareness of refugee issues in East Asia, and address negative discourses about refugees and asylum seekers. The Forum was attended by university students, public interest lawyers and members of the public.


On 18-19 October 2017, APRRN Secretariat staff member Evan Jones travelled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to participate in a closed-door workshop organised by Oxfam International. Titled ‘Towards a Global Responsibility Sharing Mechanism in the CRRF’, the workshop was attended by OXFAM staff and other civil society representatives from across the world. The primary reason for the workshop was for attendees to analyse, critique and provide comments on Oxfam’s proposed ‘concrete mechanism’.

Through offering a proposal for a concrete mechanism for responsibility and burden sharing – with specific measurements, indicators and assignments of fair share – Oxfam was hoping to provide a tangible framework that would spur robust discussions among organisations and states that goes beyond a general call for international cooperation to an overdue debate on how to make it happen. More information on Oxfam’s proposal can be found here.


On 10–14 November 2017, an APRRN delegation attended the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF) held in Manila, Philippines. During the 4-day conference, APRRN contributed to the drafting of the Statement of the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum 2017. The Statement lays out recommendations to ASEAN including expanding spaces for ASEAN people’s participation, upholding human rights and rule of law, and forging regional solutions to regional problems such as conflicts and the displacement of peoples as a result thereof.

The conference also provided an opportunity for APRRN to strengthen dialogue, and its relationships with AICHR representatives, CSOs and European Parliament members attending the ACSC/APF, as well as support a Refugee Forum organised by APRRN’s member in the Philippines, Community and Family Services International. The forum was well attended and provided an opportunity to engage with CSO members unfamiliar with refugee issues in the region.


Following on from the ASEAN Civil Society Conference, APRRN Secretariat staff Evan Jones and Sussi Prapanakart embarked on a series of outreach and advocacy meetings with various stakeholders including UNHCR, IOM, legal aid providers, the Department of Justice, MPs and policy makers. The APRRN Secretariat was joined by a representative from OXFAM International and from our local partner, Community and Family Services International. The rationale behind such meetings had three main objectives:

1 – To promote the idea that the Philippines could and should be a louder regional voice for refugee protection. As one of only two countries in ASEAN to have ratified the 1951 Convention, the Philippines is in a unique position to speak and act with some sort of moral credibility. Especially in light of the current Rohingya crisis, such action is now more important than ever;

2 – To gain a better understanding about some of the practical barriers as to why there are so few refugees in the Philippines, despite there being a relatively robust protection environment for them.

phils3 – To explore options as to how the Philippines can do more within the region in terms of both taking more people and expanding their protection mandate.
The meetings were incredibly fruitful and the ideas very well received. It is likely that several MPs within the Philippines Government will host a “refugee symposium” of sorts in 2018 to further bring these ideas to the spotlight within government. APRRN will provide technical assistance should this come to fruition.


From 6-8 November, a number APRRN members attended the ESCAP Asia Preparatory Meeting on the Global Compact on Migration held in Bangkok, Thailand. APRRN was represented by Deputy Chair Lilianne Fan, APRRN Secretariat member Evan Jones, Chair of the Women & Girls at Risk Working Group Carolina Gottardo and Chair of the Immigration Detention Working Group Vivienne Chew. In addition to attending the plenary meetings to monitor states pledges and language towards refugees, APRRN also held an official side event on 8 November. Titled “Exploring the Nexus of the Two Global Compacts from a Gender Responsive Perspective”, the event was co-organised by APRRN and UNWOMEN. Speakers were from APRRN, UNWOMEN, the Bangladesh Government and UNHCR. Approximately 50 people attended the side meeting.


On 20 November, the Coalition for the Rights of Refugees and Stateless Persons organised a public seminar titled “Migration, irregular migrants and refugee management”. This seminar brought together individuals from across the region to share their expertise in migration management, including the economic contributions of refugees / migrants.

Following on from this seminar, from 21-22 November, APRRN members participated in a workshop organised by Asylum Access Thailand on Thailand’s proposed national refugee screening mechanism. A commitment by the Thai Government during the 2016 ‘Obama Summit’, the mechanism seeks to be able to distinguish between refugees and other migrants potentially in need of protection.

The workshop commenced with a session outlining the importance of the screeninbbpmg mechanism and an analysis of support available by the global community. This was delivered by Canada’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand, H.E. Ms. Donica Pottie. This was followed by a series of presentations on legal frameworks, transitions to state led RSD, effective refugee screening and the need for durable solutions.
During the second day, speakers from Japan (Brian Barbour) and Hong Kong (Piya Muqit) shared experiences from their jurisdictions including best practices and lessons learned. APRRN will continue to support the work of CRSP in 2018 and look forward to seeing the protections available to refugees in Thailand continue to rise.



On the occasion of the celebration of ASEAN’s 50th anniversary, on the 16th of October, the offices of the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung in Bangkok and Yangon jointly organised a conference on the development paradigms that have been influencing ASEAN integration since its inception. Held in Yangon, Myanmar, the conference was broken into three discussion panels i.e. ASEAN Economic Integration and its Model of Development, Growing Challenges of ASEAN’s Development Model, and A Sustainable Development Model for ASEAN. APRRN was represented at the conference by Evan Jones from the APRRN Secretariat.

The primary aim of the conference was for civil society, academia and the private sector to come together and take stock / reflect on the challenges and opportunities of the development model of ASEAN. As ASEAN remains a primary focus of APRRN’s work, the conference provided a useful meeting to interact with other stakeholders outside of the refugee rights sector, development connections and share ideas about ‘ways forward’. Conference organisers are currently compiling a set of recommendations towards a sustainable development paradigm for the region which will be available in due course.


IRIN News – UN bid to improve migrant, refugee response flounders as political will evaporates

Devex – In troubled Rakhine state, access slowly begins opening up again

Focus Taiwan – Taipei forum highlights challenges in refugee protection in East Asia

Human Rights Watch – Myanmar: Global Appeal for UN Action

The Daily Star – UN to work with Asean to resolve crisis

Khmer Times – Refugee Protection Weak in Practice

Phnom Penh Post – Refugee Deal a Gag for Australia

Khmer Times – An Open Letter to the Indonesian President

Jakarta Globe – Indonesia Deports Vietnamese Asylum Seekers as Rights Group Cries Foul


As many of you will know, APRRN is currently undergoing an organisational review. After a competitive recruitment process, we have commissioned IOD PARC (a UK based evaluation and organisation development consulting firm) to undertake this external evaluation of APRRN’s work over its last strategic period (2014-17).

The evaluation will serve to inform APRRN’s decision-making and inform the strategic planning process for the period 2018-2022, as well as to provide evidence of the results APRRN has achieved between 2014-17. APRRN’s last organisational review was held in 2013.

In addition to analysing APRRN’s current strategic plan, our impact and our achievements, the review team is also looking at APRRN’s structure to see if that has been conducive (or otherwise) to achieving APRRN’s goals. The evaluation team has conducted interviews with APRRN’s member organizations, steering committee, secretariat staff and donors. The evaluation will offer recommendations to be taken into account as the Network moves ahead and approaches its next strategic plan cycle. The completed report is expected to be available in January 2018.


March 6-8: UNHCR 71st Standing Committee Meeting, Geneva, Switzerland

March 20: ICVA Annual Conference 2018 – ‘Navigating the Nexus’, Geneva, Switzerland

June 19-21: UNHCR 72nd Standing Committee Meeting, Geneva, Switzerland

June 27-29: UNHCR Annual Consultations with NGOs, Geneva, Switzerland

October (TBC): The Seventh Asia Pacific Consultation on Refugee Rights, Location TBA

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