Undoing Precarity: Elevating Positive Practices for Refugee Protection in South and South East Asia
The Global South–and in particular South and Southeast Asian states–shoulder major responsibility in hosting displaced communities–distinctly Rohingya and Afghan refugee populations. Notably, most of these states are not signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention and many do not have domestic legislative frameworks governing matters of refugee reception, status determination, nor protection. This report offers an abbreviated regional and Global South-oriented analysis of protections and positive practices extended towards refugee and asylum-seeking populations in Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Thailand, thereby demonstrating some of the ways in which protection-oriented practices are employed by this cohort of non-signatory states.
The ‘Undoing Precarity’ report was researched and written as part of a multi-year research consultancy between RSN and the Open Society Foundations (OSF). Additional support was provided by the Global Strategic Litigation Council for Refugee Rights (GSLC), along with other numerous regional experts. The report seeks to support thinking around resorting to law reform, and using and re-imagining existing legal systems in the Global South to advance rights and secure legal remedies for refugees, displaced persons, and individuals with insecure legal status. As such, the report’s primary audience includes frontline legal practitioners, activists, policymakers, and other stakeholders throughout South and Southeast Asia.
GUIDE TO USING THIS REPORT
This report highlights ways in which countries in South and Southeast Asia that are not signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol have nonetheless extended protections for and advanced the rights of refugees living within their borders through various legislative and administrative practices. The guide seeks to promote practical and actionable steps that can be adopted and adapted in other settings, informing existing and emerging efforts to help refugees defend and realise their rights.
The research underlying this report was undertaken by the Refugee Solidarity Network and the Open Society Justice Initiative
beginning in July 2018. It involved multiple stages and methods, including:
- desk review of primary sources, such as legislative acts, administrative orders and memos, and judicial opinions and decisions;
- findings, reviewed by experts, from six host countries: Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Thailand;
- consultations, held in-person in Kuala Lumpur, Dhaka, and Cox’s Bazar, from April 2019, and then virtually up to December 2020;
- review and substantial contributions by regional expert Brian Barbour;
- verification of findings and research into developments pertaining to the positive practices compilated in this report;
- peer review by T. Alexander Aleinikoff and Ian M. Kysel of the Secretariat of the Global Strategic Litigation Council for Refugee Rights.
This report provides a snapshot of policies and practices in place at the time of its writing (between 2019 and 2021). It is not intended as a comprehensive enumeration of all relevant positive practices in the region, nor does it include a thorough overview and discussion of the legal frameworks identified in each setting. Legal practitioners, advocates, and policymakers working on refugee rights issues in South and Southeast Asia are the report’s primary audience and therefore some degree of familiarity with migration and refugee issues in the region on the part of the reader is assumed.
The report fully appreciates the risks associated with highlighting government action that falls short of established international protection standards. To be effective, any strategy aimed at improving conditions for refugees must involve a nuanced understanding of the evolving political dynamics that shape refugee and migration policy. The report’s suggestions do not ignore those realities but seek to provide ideas for consideration for those engaged in the difficult task of navigating such complex environments.
Full report here.