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Authors: Katen-Narvell, Elizabeth
Advisors: Moravcsik, Andrew
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2013
Abstract: This thesis examines why and how the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed to cooperate regionally on protecting migrant rights, most notably in signing the Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers. State preferences on migration do not align, and the Association has traditionally not discussed migrant rights or human rights at all. ASEAN’s addressing migrant rights despite conflicting interests not only deviates from the Association’s previous practices, it also demonstrates a shift in institutional norms. Observers dismiss ASEAN’s cooperation as an attempt to satisfy external normative pressures or identify its intentions as insincere, but this thesis argues that regional attention to migrant rights reflects some member states genuine, rational interest in protecting the rights of their citizens who migrate. States with democratic political systems and a high level of out-migration have an instrumental interest in ensuring respect for the rights of migrant workers, and the development of this priority within some member states lead to regional attention to migrant rights. Applying the theory of embedded liberalism to states’ migration preference formation supports the hypothesis that democratization and out-migration cause states to prioritize migrant rights. Migrant-sending and migrant-receiving states benefit economically from migration but also face associated social costs. A high proportion of its population working overseas offers a state economic benefits through remittances but also creates support for migrant rights among the emigrant community and citizens at home. Democratization increases the political importance of social pressures. The political transitions of the Philippines and Indonesia demonstrate how democratic systems of government create a state-society relationship responsive to the social interests of a large out-migration population. Thailand’s development towards primarily receiving migrants and consequential prioritization of economic interests substantiate the importance of out-migration in shaping the social aspects of migration interests. As liberalism predicts, the Philippines and Indonesia’s changing preferences led to their regional action through ASEAN. Southeast Asia’s cooperation demonstrates a rational choice to act regionally on migrant rights. The changes in the Association’s practices and norms evident in this action suggest that as member states democratize and the region integrates politically and economically, ASEAN faces pressure to reform in response to the changing needs and interests of member states. The institutionally internal pressure to meet altered preferences on the content and form of regional cooperation initiated genuine changes in ASEAN. The content and form of ASEAN’s cooperation on migrant rights reflects states’ new, rational interests in instituting these protections regionally, which marks a new development and sign of progress for Southeast Asia’s regional cooperation.
Extent: 92 pages
Access Restrictions: Walk-in Access. This thesis can only be viewed on computer terminals at the Mudd Manuscript Library.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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