Publication Date

April 2017


Ioana Emy Matesan


College of Social Studies


English (United States)


Despite existing legal frameworks explicating states’ responsibilities toward refugees and persons facing war crimes or crimes against humanity, refugees’ access to protection across the world is shrinking. Specifically, many limitations on refugees’ rights and livelihoods have arisen because states have growingly defined refugees in terms of their potential for radicalization, terrorism, and security threats. As a case study to evaluate refugee protection in light of modern political challenges, this thesis examines the limitations of organizations tasked with upholding refugee protection norms in Jordan. It evaluates obstacles to refugee protection that have emerged in Jordan from 2011-2016, explaining that the Jordanian government’s approach to refugees as a national security threat and disruption to political stability has created normative tensions in the international refugee regime. Drawing from securitization theory and “ruling bargain” theories, this thesis argues that states in part construct security threats based upon their pre-existing political scripts and strategic incentives as rational self-interested actors. This thesis also contextualizes the Jordanian government’s national security paradigm in refugee policy within its historical experience with refugees and concerns over domestic political stability, as well as securitization of refugees by the United States. It concludes that refugee protection organizations in Jordan are continually redefining their approaches to both providing aid and encouraging compliance with refugee protection norms in response to the state’s emphasis on national security and political stability.



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