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The Peril and Potential of Ambiguity: How National Laws and Policies Can Strengthen and Protect the Rights of Rohingya Refugees

In: Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law
Authors:
Sumaiya IslamOpen Society Justice Initiative, London, UK, sumaiya.islam@opensocietyfoundations.org

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Coline SchupferOpen Society Justice Initiative, London, UK, coline.schupfer@opensocietyfoundations.org

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Zaid HydariRefugee Solidarity Network, New York, USA, zaid@refugeesolidaritynetwork.org

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Alexandra ZetesRefugee Solidarity Network, New York, USA, zetes.alexandra@gmail.com

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Kevin ColeRefugee Solidarity Network, New York, USA, kevin@refugeesolidaritynetwork.org

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Abstract

Against a backdrop of toughening governmental stances towards refugees, migrants, and stateless persons in the Asia-Pacific region, there is a renewed urgency to consider possibilities for the expansion of protection and access to rights and services to those who normally face exclusion. Drawing on national case law, policy developments and other practices in six major host countries in the region, this article highlights instances in which, despite not being party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, states have extended rights to non-citizens and thereby signalled acceptance of key refugee rights norms. In examining these precedents, the article demonstrates the possibility of expanding protection outside of the international refugee law framework, and intends to provide inspiration for the progressive realisation of rights for displaced Rohingya communities across the region, as well as for other non-citizen communities facing similar challenges.

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