Aspirational yet precarious: Compliance of New Zealand refugee settlement policy with international human rights obligations

Type of content
Journal Article
Thesis discipline
Degree name
Inderscience Publishers
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Mahony C
Marlowe J
Humpage L
Baird N

Despite New Zealand’s ratification of similar international obligations to the other ‘Group of 5’ states, the prevalence of broad strategies with little specificity in relation to policy or supporting funds suggests governmental reticence to concretely recognise refugee rights. This article does not attempt to examine settlement policy compliance with every right enjoyed by refugees under international law. Instead, as our title suggests, it demonstrates that New Zealand refugee policy is aspirational yet extremely precarious. The first section indicates how a refugee’s pathway to protection via the UN quota system or as Convention refugees, significantly affects both family reunification and refugee resettlement support. The second section provides evidence that economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) are insufficiently embedded in New Zealand’s legal framework to ensure coherent implementation leading to inconsistent and discriminatory policy compliance and dependence on NGOs and volunteers. This circumstance makes it difficult to contend that New Zealand actually meets its international obligations in a consistent and sufficient manner, despite the aspirations articulated by the recently developed Refugee Resettlement Strategy and other policies.

Mahony C, Marlowe J, Humpage L, Baird N (2017). Aspirational yet precarious: Compliance of New Zealand refugee settlement policy with international human rights obligations. International Journal of Migration and Border Studies. 3(1)(1). 5-23.
Ngā upoko tukutuku/Māori subject headings
ANZSRC fields of research
1603 Demography
1801 Law
Fields of Research::48 - Law and legal studies::4803 - International and comparative law::480307 - International humanitarian and human rights law
Fields of Research::48 - Law and legal studies::4807 - Public law::480703 - Domestic human rights law
Fields of Research::44 - Human society::4407 - Policy and administration::440712 - Social policy
Fields of Research::44 - Human society::4403 - Demography::440303 - Migration
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