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(Un)safe Haven in Bangkok: Urban Refugee Protection in a Middle Income Country


Author: Batreau, Quentin
Under the direction of: Françoise Mengin
Institut d’études politiques, Paris
English Language English text

Keywords: Political science, Thailand, Asylum, Refugees, Neighboring countries, Bangkok.


Read the thesis.


Since the beginning of the 1990s a number of middle income countries, including Thailand, have taken on a new role within the international asylum system. They had until then only hosted refugees coming from neighboring countries, or at least countries from within their region. Since, they started attracting refugees from across the world, becoming global havens. The management of these new populations is a challenge, and how that challenge is addressed in these countries will becoming more and more important as they play an increasingly central role in the international asylum system. In Thailand, almost all of these new refugees not coming from neighboring countries live in Bangkok, and are therefore referred to as “urban refugees”. What approach to the management of urban refugees has the Thai state taken, without the constraint of the Refugee Convention ? Can non-state actors fill gaps in refugee protection left by the state ? What level of protection can be provided to urban refugees in a non-signatory country like Thailand ? The thesis shows that the Thai urban refugee management system is hostile and punitive towards refugees, that non-state actors have not managed to fill the gaps in refugee protection created by this approach, and that as a result the level of protection achieve for urban refugees in the country is very low. Moreover, the thesis shows that Thai state has successfully bended the arm of refugee advocates, whether UNHCR of civil society organizations, to the point where neither are in a position to challenge its policies.