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Title: Governing exiles : competing sites of law and justice on the Thai-Burma border
Author: McConnachie, K. M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2720 9445
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis examines the administration of justice within the Karen refugee community on the Thai-Burma border. Often supposed to be absent jurisdictional oversight, in reality refugee camps operat~ at an intersection of multiple forms of regulation, including the law ofthe host state, international frameworks of human rights and refugee law, structures of legal informalism, cultural practices, attitudinal norms and religious traditions. There are nine refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border. Camp populations are subjected to extensive restrictions imposed by the Royal Thai Government, and the denial of freedom of movement and income generation has left refugees dependent on humanitarian assistance agencies for food and other basic resources. However, day to day camp management is largely handled by a refugee-led camp administration which, among other functions, has responsibility for justice delivery. The impressive level of internal autonomy within the Thai- Burma border camps has attracted international recognition but no comprehensive analysis. This thesis details the work of the camp governance system, its historical origins and its relationships with other normative orders. Key themes are the camp as community, the production of order beyond the state, and justice as a contested site. A struggle for normative control is identified between the three primary sets of actors engaged in camp governance - the Thai authorities, international humanitarian organisations and the refugee leadership. The struggle to define justice is particularly pronounced between international agencies and the camp leadership and has had real practical impact in transforming social norms within the Karen refugee community. This thesis highlights the agentic capacity of refugees but also highlights similarities between the refugee camp and other conflict-affected communities: a local population asserting agency, confronted by competing discourses of statehood and sovereignty from national governments and transnational relief agencies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available