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Part III Regional Regimes, Ch.23 Regional Refugee Regimes: Southeast Asia

Vitit Muntarbhorn

From: The Oxford Handbook of International Refugee Law

Edited By: Cathryn Costello, Michelle Foster, Jane McAdam

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 11 December 2023

Asylum — Internally displaced persons — Non-refoulement — NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) — Regional co-operation — Regional organizations

This chapter focuses on the 10 States that form the Association of Southeast Asian Nations: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos), Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. There has been a tendency by Southeast Asian States to avoid using the term ‘refugees’ at the national level, even though they have to deal with the term in international fora. Most States in the region do not have specific laws on refugee protection; their legal structure tends to classify people who seek refuge as ‘illegal immigrants’ under national immigration law. Occasionally, policies allowing asylum seekers to reside temporarily in the country pending durable solutions help to exempt them from the strictures of such law. Ultimately, two salient features emerge in the chapter’s discussion. First, most Southeast Asian countries are still not parties to the international refugee instruments. Secondly, however, there is an extensive practice within the region of affording temporary refuge to most people seeking asylum, even if local integration or settlement remains the exception rather than the rule.

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