Refugees, Regionalism and Responsibility

Refugees, Regionalism and Responsibility

Elgar Studies in Human Rights series

Penelope Mathew and Tristan Harley

Regional cooperation is sometimes seen as the answer to refugee movements. This book examines whether regional arrangements have resulted in protection and durable solutions for refugees and how responsibility for refugees has been shared at the regional level. Posing critical questions about responsibility-sharing and regionalism, the book is a timely contribution on an issue garnering increasing attention as a result of maritime arrivals in the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia.

Chapter 4: The Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indochinese Refugees

Penelope Mathew and Tristan Harley

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, public international law, politics and public policy, human rights, international relations


One of the first major multilateral arrangements to address refugee situations within a regional context was the 1989 Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indochinese Refugees (CPA). This arrangement built on a 1979 arrangement conceived following the end of the war in Vietnam to address the mass displacement of people in the region. Under the CPA, countries of first asylum in the region, such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong, agreed to give temporary protection to Vietnamese and Laotians arriving in their territory so long as states from outside the region committed to resettle large numbers of these refugees. This chapter examines the successes and limitations of this arrangement, and explores the conception of regionalism reflected in this arrangement which sought to shift responsibility for refugees from the region to the developed world.

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