Australia’s Policies on “Boat People” and Emerging Trends in the Bali Process:With a Focus on Refugee Protection

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Other Title
  • オーストラリアのボートピープル政策とバリ・プロセスの展開
  • オーストラリアのボートピープル政策とバリ・プロセスの展開 : 難民保護をめぐる攻防
  • オーストラリア ノ ボートピープル セイサク ト バリ ・ プロセス ノ テンカイ : ナンミン ホゴ オ メグル コウボウ
  • ―難民保護をめぐる攻防―

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Abstract

<p>The waters connecting Indonesia and Australia (the Indian Ocean, the Timor Sea and the Arafura Sea) have been a “people smuggling” trade route to Australia since the mid-1990s. Many asylum seekers, mainly from Central Asia and the Middle East, departed Indonesian coasts for Australian territories, including Christmas Island and Ashmore Reef, on shabby wooden fishing boats. In response, the Australian government started to implement increasingly rigid border control policies in order to deter such boat arrivals, often portrayed as serious threats to Australian sovereignty. The most notorious is the so-called “Pacific Solution”, which was implemented between 2001 to 2008, and was resumed in 2012 to intercept and remove “boat people” to offshore detention centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.</p><p>It is noteworthy that the Australian government has sought to address its boat people issues by positively using the regional cooperation framework of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime, which is an official international forum established in 2002 on Australia’s initiative. Currently, the Bali Process has over 48 members, including all ASEAN countries and UNHCR, as well as a number of observer countries and international agencies.</p><p>This paper traces how the Bali Process has been intrinsically linked to Australian national policy on asylum seekers, and examines the tension among the members, including UNHCR, which has tried to put refugee protection onto the agenda of the Bali Process. In spite of UNHCR’s efforts, securitised discourse on irregular migration has dominated the Bali Process, which has served Australia’s political interests well at the risk of promoting a holistic regional approach for refugee protection.</p><p>On the other hand, as M. Curley & K. Vandyk mentioned, the Bali Process is an institutional space in which co-chairs Australia and Indonesia and other regional countries could contest and amend the norms and practices around the human rights of refugees and asylum-seekers. In this sense, the Bali Process has significant consequences for the international refugee regime in the Asia Pacific region, where most countries are not parties to the Refugee Convention or Protocol.</p><p>As such, emerging trends in the Bali Process are also considered to shed light on more recent positive signs, such as the new active role of Indonesia in shaping the agenda seen in the Jakarta Declaration, reflecting a broader humanitarian perspective than ever as well as the possibility of cooperation between the state-led Bali Process and civil society actors.</p>

Journal

  • International Relations

    International Relations 2018 (190), 190_97-190_113, 2018-01-25

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