Fiza Lee

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.



  • November 2019
    "Forced Migration in Transition: Perspectives from Social Science and Law"
    Conference of the SYLFF Mikrokolleg on Forced Migration
    14 – 15 November 2019
    Ruhr University Bochum

    More info here.

  • October 2019

    On October 1st, Keita Sugai from the Tokyo Foundation visited the RUB Research School. He took the opportunity to exchange ideas with Prof. Dr. Löwenstein, Dr. Christiane Wüllner and Dr. Sarah Gemicioglu on the design of the Sylff Mikrokolleg. At a meeting with fellow students and associates of the Kolleg, he learned more about the activities and the upcoming conferences, organized by the members of the Sylff-Mikrokolleg.

  • August 2019
    Congratulations! Benedikt Behlert and UK Mong Marma raised additional funding by the Tokyo Foundation for their projects

  • July 2019

    The SYLFF associate, doctoral candidate Mais Masadeh presented her research on the resilience of victims of war currently living in Germany, at the workshop  “Politics, Identities and Relationships in the Transatlantic World” which took place  at City University New York (CUNY)  between July 8-13 in NY. 

    The program was organized and funded by the Graduate Center of CUNY, The Ralph Bunche Institute, the EU Studies Center, and the RUB Research School Bochum. Lead by the Dean of the Faculty of History, Prof. C. Goschler and his counterpart Prof. J. Torpey, the director of the R.Bunche Institute,  the program focuses on leading a platform of transatlantic research cooperation and equip participants with recent academic and professional skills such as sharpening research ideas and identifying gaps in research through group discussions, publishing inside and outside academia, grant seeking and cultural nuances. Key speakers included Steven Sokol, the president of the American Council on Germany, Yvonne Rothschild, the Executive Director of the European-American Chamber of Commerce, Micah Kleit, the Director of the Rutgers University Press, and Anne Glusker the Deputy Editor of To ensure the continuity of this transatlantic cooperation, the sixth program-meeting will convene in July in 2020 welcoming researchers from American institutions and will take place at RUB.

  • June 2019

    Foto: © Mais Masadeh

    On June 4th, the Sylff associate Mais Masadeh along with Dr. Gedahus moderated a panel entitled “Was kommt nach der Flucht aus der ISIS-Sklaverei?”. The panel hosted two keynote speakers Ms Salwa Rasho, a Yazidi human rights activist who was abducted by ISIS in 2014 along with thousands of Yazidi women and girls. She was able to escape the terrorist organization in 2015 and was resettled through a humanitarian program in Germany. Mirza Dinnayi, the founder of Luftbrüke Irak, a non-profit organization aims to assist victims of war from Irak to be treated in German hospitals. The panelists shared experiences from their lives during ISIS siege of parts of Kurdistan, challenges of humanitarian aid in the region, how the surviving Yazidi population are adapting after the war and the current situation of rescued children who have been recruited into ISIS military camps and challenges to assist and reintegrate them back not the society. The panel was organized by the IFHV in cooperation with the faculty of social sciences.

  • June 2019
    Mit der Bitte um zahlreiches Erscheinen: Veranstaltung der RUB zum Weltflüchtlingstag 2019, am 15. Juni im Blue Square.

  • May 2019
    RUB Research School visiting Tokyo Foundation

    RUB Research School Managing Director Dr. Christiane Wüllner and Dr. Jörn Benzinger gladly accepted the invitation to visit the headquarters of Tokyo Foundation and SYLFF during their visit to Japan. The informative exchange helped to foster the strong relationship between RUB Research School and Tokyo Foundation.

    We are very much looking forward to continuing the extremely fruitful cooperation and would like to express our sincere gratitude for SYLFF’s support of doctoral researchers at our university. Thank you for having us!

  • May 2019
    Benedikt Behlert published an article on "Völkerrechtsblog"

  • March 2019
    We are starting to build RUB's network on "Forced Migration".
    Share your approaches, ideas and results with fellows and associates of
    the Sylff Kolleg on "Forced Migration". Doctoral researchers and advanced
    master students of all disciplines are invited to discuss their research in
    this network. Read more.

  • December 2018:
    The Sylff Fellows participated in a one day workshop on providing and receiving feedback in an academic setting at RUB Research School.

  • November 2018
    Read the new article on the  “Verfassungsblog/On matters constitutional”of Benedikt Behlert dealing with the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

  • October 2018:
    Corinna Land raised additional funding by the Tokio Foundation for her project

  • February 2018: Sylff-Mikrokolleg Kick-off
    The Kick-off Event of the Sylff-Mikrokolleg in Forced Migration started with a warm welcome by Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Löwenstein, Dean of RUB Research School and Research Academy Ruhr as well as a member of the Steering Committee of the Sylff-Mikrokolleg. Dr. Benjamin Etzold from the Bonn International Center for Conversion (Bicc) held the inauguration speech and provided a talk on „Violence – Mobility – Space. Key Perspectives in Forced Migration Studies“. Afterwards, the four Sylff fellows presented their PhD projects to the audience. All those present used the opportunity to discuss the different research projects within the get-together after the event.

SYLFF links

SYLFF links

  • RUB Mailinglist on migration (Flucht und Migration)
  • Further information on projects and activities dealing with the subject flight throughout Germany can be found in the Interactive Map made by the Bonn International Center for Conversion (Bicc) in collaboration with the “Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies”. The Sylff-Mikrokolleg is also listed in this map.