Whose Responsibility? The Protection of Refugees in East Asia

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Many states in the East Asian region (including Northeast and Southeast subregions) are moving away from traditional state-centric governance notions towards accepting a localised variant of 'sovereignty as responsibility' that allows for criticism of domestic policies and limited diplomatic pressure in the event of humanitarian crises. There has been acceptance of the cosmopolitan governance principles of human security and the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). Despite convergence on the R2P however, East Asian states maintain a pluralistic understanding of what it implies and its relationship with human security. Furthermore, refugees form one of the most vulnerable groups in the region precisely because of an ongoing resistance in recognising responsibility for their protection. This paper addresses the performance of different agencies of governance (at the national and international level) in fulfilling their R2P obligations towards North Korean refugees and the Rohingya, the two most prominent (and controversial) regional refugee groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-79
Number of pages32
JournalGlobal Responsibility to Protect
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2022.


  • East Asia
  • North Korean refugees
  • R2P
  • Rohingya
  • cosmopolitan governance
  • human security
  • regional pluralism


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