Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration


In 2015, the Centre for Policy Development convened the first of six meetings of the Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration. The Dialogue brings together individuals from government, NGOs, policy and academic institutions and international organisations, each of whom act in their personal capacities to support the development of a more effective, durable and dignified approach to ‘forced migration’. Typically, these are the migratory movements that involve the most vulnerable people and are proving the most difficult for governments around the world to manage. Often an element of deception or coercion exists, including human trafficking and threats to life and livelihood arising from natural or man-made causes.

We believe that no country in our region can satisfactorily address the issue of forced migration by acting alone. Instead, regional cooperation is required. However, in an environment often dominated by sensitivities and controversies about the appropriate responses to forced migratory movements at the national level, this has proven to be exceptionally difficult in practice. Through its independent discussions and policy development, and its work in conjunction with existing mechanisms for government-to-government cooperation on these issues, the Dialogue hopes to help build a platform for greater regional cooperation to address forced migration in our region.


Background information and recent events 

The creation of a regional second track dialogue to explore durable solutions to forced migration was a key recommendation in Beyond the Boats, a report launched in 2014 by the Centre for Policy Development, Australia 21 and the Andrew and Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law (UNSW).

A second track dialogue is a non-governmental discussion aimed at building relationships and exploring new policy responses. The informality of the forum allows participants to come to the table unburdened by official expectations and encouraged to take part in dynamic and constructive processes of policy development. Although members of governments and bureaucracies may take part, they do so in a personal and not an official capacity.

CPD convened the first meeting of the Dialogue – originally known as Track II Dialogue on Forced Migration in the Asia Pacific – in August 2015 in Melbourne. The second meeting was held in Bangkok in January 2016. The third meeting was held in Kuala Lumpur in September 2016. The forth meeting will be in Indonesia in early 2017.

For further background information and key documents see the links below:

Additional information and rationale for the Dialogue 

Former Indonesian Foreign Minister Dr Hassan Wirajuda‘s keynote speech at the Dialogue dinner on 28 January 2016

Statement by the Bali Process Ad Hoc Group Senior Officials in response to Dialogue recommendations on 2 February 2016

Agenda, participants and outcomes from the first Dialogue meeting in August 2015 (Melbourne)

Agenda, participants and outcomes from the second Dialogue meeting in January 2016 (Bangkok)

Agenda, participants and outcomes from the third Dialogue meeting in September 2016 (Kuala Lumpur)

December 2016 update: ADFM statements on New York summits, Rahkine State and Colombo meeting outcomes

Dialogue partners

CPD’s regional partner organisations for the Dialogue are Mahidol University’s Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies (Thailand), the Institute for Strategic and International Studies (ISIS Malaysia) and the Centre for Political Studies, Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).



Dialogue supporters 

The Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration is supported by the following organisations:


CPD would also like to thank individual donors and Ideas Sustainers for their support for this work.

Coverage and related media 

Michael Gordon, political editor of The Age, and Syed Azahedi, foreign editor of the New Straits Times, participated in the second Dialogue meeting in Bangkok in January 2016.

Asylum seekers – is there a better way? Michael Gordon, The Age, 30 January 2016.

People smuggling: ‘step up or step aside,’ Australia and Indonesia warnedMichael Gordon, The Age, 1 February 2016.

Malaysia is a tempting destination for migrants, Syed Azahedi, New Straits Times, New Straits Times, 1 February 2016.

During the first Dialogue meeting in August 2015, Laura Tingle, political editor of the Australian Financial Review, briefed participants on key policy and political issues around forced migration from an Australian media perspective. On 4 February she wrote about the importance of dialogue between Australia and its regional neighbours to address long-term policy challenges associated with forced migration:

Asylum seeker policy: the Limbo is not an attractive dance, Laura Tingle, AFR, 4 February 2016.

CPD CEO Travers McLeod discussed the rationale and objectives of the Dialogue on ABC Radio National’s Outsiders program on 7 February.

The Conversation is carrying a series of articles by Dialogue members on the need for improved regional architecture to address forced migration. The full set of articles is available here.

The Bali Process can do a lot more to respond to forced migration in our region, 21 March 2016.

The Andaman Sea refugee crisis a year on: what happened and how did the region respond?, 26 May 2016.

The Andaman Sea refugee crisis a year on: is the region now better prepared?, 27 May 2016.

         How the Asia-Pacific can lead the way on migrants and refugees, September 21 2016.

In the latest Australian Human Rights Commission report, Pathways to Protection, the Dialogue featured as a “concrete example” of the importance regional engagement for civil society actors and their role in fostering innovation in policy and creating effective responses to address the emerging threats of forced migration (Box 21, page 63), September 2016.

Dialogue Secretariat member Ariane Yasmin from the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia expanded the themes of the Dialogue and the threats to Asian security in an article for the New Straights Times, 20 September 2016.

CPD CEO Travers McLeod was a guest on ABC Radio National Drive to discuss the global refugee crisis and the role that the Dialogue must play in it, 21 September 2016.