Central Asian Yearbook of International Law and International Relations

Article

Central Asian States’ Compliance with International Refugee and Human Rights Law

The Case of Chinese Uyghur Asylum Seekers

Keywords Chinese Uyghur asylum seekers, refugees, Central Asia, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
Authors Khalida Azhigulova
Author's information

Khalida Azhigulova
Khalida Azhigulova, PhD in Law (University of Leicester) MJur (Oxon) FHEA.
  • Abstract

      Both China and Central Asian states are parties to the major international human rights instruments that demand protection of the human rights of ethnic and religious minorities as well as protection of refugees from persecution based on their ethnicity and religious and political views. This chapter explores how Central Asian states have been balancing their international human rights obligations towards Chinese Uyghur asylum seekers and their regional obligations under the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to fight against terrorism, extremism and separatism. The author finds that Central Asian states have continuously treated Chinese asylum seekers as a political matter and have given preference to their regional commitments towards China over their international human rights obligations, which has resulted in the absence of any real protection for Chinese asylum seekers in the region. This chapter argues that while Central Asian states may see compliance with human rights obligations to be politically inconvenient, only due compliance with international refugee and human rights law in good faith will benefit these states in the long run. In particular, a strictly legal approach to Chinese asylum seekers will help Central Asian states assert their sovereign equality and independence within the SCO and balance out China’s growing influence on their domestic policy.

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