Over the border and under the radar : can illegal migrants be active citizens?

Clarke, Matthew 2009, Over the border and under the radar : can illegal migrants be active citizens?, Development in practice, vol. 19, no. 8, pp. 1064-1078, doi: 10.1080/09614520903220768.

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Title Over the border and under the radar : can illegal migrants be active citizens?
Author(s) Clarke, Matthew
Journal name Development in practice
Volume number 19
Issue number 8
Start page 1064
End page 1078
Total pages 15
Publisher Routledge
Place of publication Abingdon, England
Publication date 2009-11
ISSN 0961-4524
Keyword(s) civil society
gender and diversity
East Asia
Summary Active citizens can become a powerful driver of development by holding to popular account those who traditionally wield decision-making power at the local and national levels. Active citizenship draws from a long history of understanding the importance of community participation and ownership of development interventions. However, in spite of its inherent strengths, active citizenship may not be a possible (or optimal) outcome in all circumstances. This article argues for the realistic expectation of active citizenship (and indeed participation) of one specific sub-population in Thailand, where the overwhelming majority of illegal migrants (of an estimated total of 800,000-1.5 million) are Burmese. Their precarious existence as illegal migrants compounds the development needs that confront any poor community. This in turn hinders their ability to engage actively in the development process. This article reviews the lessons learned by a Thai-based NGO that has worked with illegal Burmese migrants for more than 15 years. It discusses the unique strengths and weakness of these illegal communities, whether or not it is appropriate to seek to engage them as active citizens, and the implications for NGOs working with such communities. It suggests that the unique role that NGOs must play, in cases where public participation could endanger the lives of community members, is that of advocate-guardians, whereby they assume the role of active citizen on behalf of the community in question and simultaneously provide development interventions and advocate on its behalf.
Language eng
DOI 10.1080/09614520903220768
Field of Research 169999 Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2009, Taylor & Francis
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30023712

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