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Fiza Lee

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PhD Student

Institute of Development Research and Development Policy
Ruhr-University Bochum
Universitaetsstr. 105, Room 2.28
D-44789 Bochum

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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PhD Project

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.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Heintze

Research Interests

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


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 & Democratisation (EIUC), Venice, Italy / Ruhr Universität-Bochum, Germany
European Masters of Arts in Human Rights & Democratisation
2007 - 2010   University of Northern Colorado, USA
Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with dual minors in Media Studies and Philosophy


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

How to contact us

Institute of Development Research and Development Policy
Ruhr University Bochum

Room 2.04
Universitaetsstr. 105
D-44789 Bochum

E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Phone:   +49-(0)234 / 32-22418
or   32-22243
Fax:   +49-(0)234 / 32-14-294

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Latest Publications

Raffael Beier and Amina Nolte: Global aspirations and local (dis-)connections: A critical comparative perspective on tramway projects in Casablanca and Jerusalem. In: Political Geography, Volume 78, April 2020, 102123 (online first)

Sustainable Development Goals and Human Rights (conference proceedings), edited by Markus Kaltenborn, Markus Krajewski and Heike Kuhn. Available via open access.

Britta Niklas and Elkhan R. Sadik-Zada: Income Inequality and Status Symbols: The Case of Fine Wine Imports. Journal of Wine Economics, 1-9. (doi:10.1017/jwe.2019.33)

More information: "Publications / New Publications"

IEE on Field Research

UK Mong Marma is on field research in Bangladesh from October to early March 2020.

Biswaranjan Tripura is on field research in Tripura State / India until April 2020.