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Regular version of the site

Article

International-domestic linkages in a developing-country context: the case of the Rohingyas in Bangladesh

Policy Studies. 2019. Vol. 40. No. 3-4. P. 303-319.

Since 1978, the Rohingya have been fleeing Myanmar and taking refuge in Bangladesh. The state of Bangladesh is not a signatory to the Geneva Convention and does not recognize refugee rights, but the initial experiences with the Rohingya refugee population led the government to create a temporary and ad hoc domestic policy advisory and refugee management system, which eventually became highly politicized. There was also some degree of slow “externalization” of policy advice through the involvement of international organizations from 2006–2007 onward, mainly through the participation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and International Organization for Migration (IOM). Over 2017–2018, there was a massive influx of refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh. The domestic advisory and refugee management system lacked the capacity to manage the crisis and had to quickly and greatly externalize policy advice and refugee management. The UNHCR and IOM came in with a host of international organizational networks and coordinated with each other and the state through a multi-sectoral approach to managing the crisis. This externalization led to the systematization and institutionalization of the state’s domestic advisory system. However the effect of externalization on politicization is equivocal; on the one hand it decreased politicization of the domestic policy advisory system, but on the other hand, it created new levels of politicization.