RUB Research School

Associate Doctoral Candidate Fiza Lee Winter

Institute of Development Research and Development Policy

Rohingya Crisis and its Regional Response

With more than 727,000 Rohingya refugees being forcibly driven out of their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, due to the continuing violence and persecution, into neighboring Bangladesh since 25 August 2017 (ISCG, 2018), the discourse on refugee protection becomes increasingly critical. However, in a region where human rights protection is inconsistent and where human rights itself has been argued to be a "Western" concept, human rights violations, done in the name of national security, are prone to fester. Compared to Europe, Asia, as a region collectively, lacks the necessary legal framework in the refugee protection regime. At the national state level, existing framework is geared towards the protection of the state and national security interests. In fact, many Asian states are void of refugee protection laws all together.
In the absence of a workable legal framework for refugee protection, the Bali Process, a non-binding international forum for policy dialogue, established to combat issues of people smuggling, trafficking, and related irregular migration and transnational crime, has become well-placed to discuss possible solutions for the region, despite not having refugee protection issues as part of its core mandate (Kneebone, 2014).
This research focusses on how Asia is responding regionally to the Rohingya refugee crisis and whether it is compatible with protecting human rights and achieving human dignity. Through a comparative analysis of the Bali Process and other similar processes geared towards irregular migration which have been adopted worldwide (Budapest Process, ASEM, GFMD, etc) and involving the participation and cooperation of both state and non-state actors, this research aims to unravel the complex intersections between the protection of state interests and matters of internal security, against the protection of human rights and principles thereof in order to gain a better understanding and contribute to the discourse on refugee protection in the region.
With regional cooperation being highlighted as a key component to address the crisis, the relevance of this study’s findings takes on a much larger role in the discourse, especially, given the severity of the ongoing humanitarian crisis as well as the regional complexities. Viable long-term "human rights friendly" solutions could only be achieved through a thorough examination and understanding of the region’s capacity, steering away from a western-centric view on the issue.

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Heintze, Prof. Dr. Pierre Thielbörger

About Fiza Lee Winter

  • refugee studies
  • international law
  • human rights law
  • democratization
  • governance & democracy
  • public policy
  • formal institutions
  • comparative, qualitative analysis

Fiza Lee is currently a PhD student at the Institut für Entwicklungsforschung & Entwicklungspolitik (IEE) and also associated at the Institut für Friedenssicherungsrecht & Humanitäres Völkerrecht (IFHV) at the Ruhr Universität Bochum in Germany. Her current project focuses on the viability of political response approaches to the refugee crisis in the Asian region, taking the Rohingyas as a case
study. Fiza holds a MA in Human Rights & Democratisation from EIUC (Venice) & Ruhr Universität Bochum, and a BA in Criminal Justice with Dual Minors in Philosophy & Media Studies from the University of Northern Colorado. She also has more than 5 years of professional experiences in the banking sector, media & marketing relations, editorial, as well as project management in various industry

2018 Present Institute of Development Research and Development Policy
(IEE), Ruhr Universität Bochum, Germany, PhD International
Development Studies
2017 – 2018 European Inter-University Center for Human Rights and
Democratisation (EIUC), Venice, Italy, Ruhr Universität-Bochum,
Germany, European Masters of Arts in Human Rights and
2007 – 2010 University of Northern Colorado, USA
Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with dual minors in Media
Studies and Philosophy
2015 – 2016 Major Shareholder & Commercial Strategist
Xcellen P/L, Singapore
2013 – 2015 Senior Producer – Capital Markets
Marcus Evans, Singapore
2010 – 2012 Staff Writer, Office of Media Relations,
University of Northern Colorado, USA
2009 – 2010 Journalist (Student Employee), UNC Mirror,
University of Northern Colorado, USA
2009 – 2010 Peer Educator Intern
Assault Survivor Advocacy Program
University of Northern Colorado, USA

Associate PhD Student at the Institut für Friedenssicherungsrecht & Humanitäres
Völkerrecht (IFHV)

International Student Scholarship (Fall 2010), University of Northern Colorado, USA

Related links