Rethinking the ‘Refugee Warrior’: The Karen National Union and refugee protection on the Thai–Burma Border

McConnachie, Kirsten (2012) Rethinking the ‘Refugee Warrior’: The Karen National Union and refugee protection on the Thai–Burma Border. Journal of Human Rights Practice, 4 (1). pp. 30-56. ISSN 1757-9619

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Well-founded fears that ‘refugee warriors’ will use refugee camps as a base for military operations, exploit a wider refugee population, or misuse international aid have led to the development of policies intended to ensure the separation of combatants and civilian refugee populations. However, a dogmatic approach to that policy goal may miss the true complexity of both refugee protection and the relationships between a refugee population and a military group. This article examines an alternative possibility, that a non-state armed group may be a potential partner in refugee protection and welfare promotion. It draws on the experiences of refugees from Burma living in camps in Thailand, where there has been a long-standing connection between camp governance structures and a political/military organization movement, the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army. While camp governance activities have been flawed, they have also displayed a high level of integrity. It is argued that in such a situation, where there is a proven record of working to improve civilian welfare, international organizations might usefully explore possibilities of engagement with non-state armed groups as partners in refugee protection, with the specific goal of encouraging a more representative, accountable, and democratic approach to governance.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: sdg 16 - peace, justice and strong institutions ,/dk/atira/pure/sustainabledevelopmentgoals/peace_justice_and_strong_institutions
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Law
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Groups > International Law
Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Groups > Migration Research Network
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2018 10:30
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 09:30
DOI: 10.1093/jhuman/hus005

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