Bilateral Resettlement Agreements: Any Promising Future for Expanding Refugee Protection Space? A Case Study of the Guantanamo Ex-Detainees Seeking Asylum in Central Asia
Refugee Law Initiative's Working Paper Series Special Edition (16-22)
22 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2017
Date Written: June 16, 2017
In 2014, Kazakhstan received five Guantanamo Bay former detainees as part of a bilateral resettlement agreement with the USA. These detainees, of Yemeni and Tunisian origin, were transferred as asylum-seekers due to a risk of persecution in their countries of origin. Though Kazakhstan is a party to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees since 1998, its policy towards refugees has been rather restrictive and it has never had a national refugee resettlement programme.
Drawing upon the analysis of legal scholarship, policy materials and state practice, this paper explores to what extent this ad hoc asylum privately negotiated between states can be regarded as an efficient durable solution for resettled Guantanamo asylum-seekers in Kazakhstan. It also examines to what extent and under what conditions bilateral resettlement agreements could promote more efficient refugee protection in regions with less developed asylum practices. The paper concludes that bilateral agreements have a strong potential to expand protection space and raise refugee protection standards in states with developing asylum systems and should be used strategically.
Keywords: Bilateral Resettlement Agreements, Guantanamo Asylum Seekers, Private Asylum, Inter-Regional Burden Sharing, Refugee Protection in Central Asia, Protection Space
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