Protecting Refugee Rights: What Determines Refugee Flows to Australia?

Stream: Panel 83 - Public Policy & Social Justice: Theories of Citizenship and Migration & Refugee Policy
Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Time: 11.00 am – 12.30 pm

Abstract

Since Australia ratified the Refugee Convention in 1954, the flows of refugees have continued to spur considerable public controversies in the country as the issue goes to the heart of the tension between Australia’s international legal obligation to protect refugee rights and its sovereign right to protect the territorial border. However, although political scientists and refugee advocates have long debated the legality and legitimacy of the Australian government’s various refugee policies, little remains known within political science about what determines refugee flows to Australia in the first place and why the volume of refugee flows varies greatly by country of origin. This study seeks to fill this theoretical gap and empirical anomaly by offering the first systematic analysis of the determinants of the country-of-origin differences in refugee flows to Australia for the period from 1996 to 2014. This study argues that the volume of refugee flows to Australia is determined by more than just refugees’ human suffering. Specifically, it claims that while the level of persecution suffered by refugees in their home country is associated with the volume of their flows to Australia, other political and strategic factors, especially the Australian government’s policies and the relationships between Australia and refugees’ country of origin, also matter systematically. To test the argument, this study employs both statistical analysis and illustrative case studies. The event count analysis (specifically, the zero-inflated negative binomial model) offers robust support for the theory, while illustrative case studies provide its real-world plausibility.

Authors

Dongwook Kim (Presenter), The Australian National University
Dr Dongwook Kim is Lecturer in the School of Politics and International Relations at the Australian National University. He received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the USA. Dr Kim was Hewlett Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University, and taught at the University of Chicago as Lecturer in International Relations and at Marquette University as Assistant Professor of Political Science in the USA. His research interests include International Relations theory, international law and organizations, human rights, transnational nongovernmental activism, and policy diffusion. Dr Kim's research has appeared in the journals International Organization and European Journal of International Relations.

Chungshik Moon (Presenter), The Australian National University
Dr Chungshik Moon is Lecturer in the School of Politics and International Relations at the Australian National University. He received his PhD from the Florida State University in the USA. His research is concerned with how domestic and international institutions affect governments’ policy choices and outcomes, with a particular interest in the causes and effects of economic globalization and development, institutional performance in autocracies, and quantitative methodology. Dr Moon's research has appeared in the journals International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution, and Journal of East Asian Studies.