Under the Canopy: Migration Governance in Southeast Asia
30 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2016 Last revised: 9 Dec 2016
Date Written: November 14, 2016
Contrary to prevailing discourse, migration governance in Southeast Asia is rich and varied, offering a range of regional, bilateral and subnational regimes. Many commentators characterize Southeast Asia as lacking adequate migration governance, and media reports highlight human rights abuses against migrants in the region. These depictions offer only partial truths, overlooking the complexity of law and practice in the region. Though few Southeast Asian nations are signatories to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, many have ratified other multilateral international treaties relating to migration. Looking deeper under the canopy, this article explores the full panoply of migration regimes, noting not only gaps in governance frameworks but also creative approaches, some of which may provide models for other regions. While many migrants in the region suffer serious harms, others benefit from innovative and generous migration policies. These regional, bilateral, and subnational approaches are often more deeply grounded in local value systems than international treaties. As a result, local populations may accord greater legitimacy to these under-the-canopy approaches, which may in the long run be more effective in improving the situation of migrants in Southeast Asia. The view from above the canopy is blocked by a sea of green leaves; one must take the time to peer under the canopy in order to gain an accurate understanding of migration governance in Southeast Asia.
Keywords: migration, Southeast Asia, international law, refugees
JEL Classification: K33, K37
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation