Fiza Lee Winter

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PhD Student

Institute for International Law of Peace & Armed Conflict (IFHV)
Ruhr Universität Bochum
Bochumer Fenster, Room 4.21
Massenbergstr. 9B
44787 Bochum

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PhD Project

The Rohingya Refugee Crisis and its Regional Response

The Rohingya Refugee Crisis is a protracted crisis and has grown into one of the largest crises in the world. Fleeing from persecution, the Rohingyas are on the move alongside other economic migrants using the same routes, exposing them to greater risk and abuses along the way. Such irregular and mixed migratory movements poses a unique and challenging situation to the Asia and the Pacific (APAC) region, where a strong legal framework is absent. Especially in relations to issues of refugee protection, this complexity is further compounded by the region’s choice of viewing it through a "securitized" lens. Additionally, as a region that is heterogeneous in all sense of the term, economically, politically, legally, and socially, refugee protection quality continues to suffer if the region also fails to cooperate. With refugee protection quality at risk, there is a need to find creative solutions to enhance refugee protection, one that allows states to balance their interests while also provide protection to persons of concern, such as the Rohingyas. This research project aims to understand whether a human rights based approach (HRBA) to refugee protection is compatible with Asian regionalism, using the Rohingya refugee crisis as a case study. This research project analyses the region’s capacity for human rights and seeks to understand the region’s preference for a securitized approach to refugee protection through an interdisciplinary research, combining socio-legal research methodology, alongside Grounded Theory as a research method. Initial research indicates that while a HRBA to refugee protection can be compatible with Asian regionalism, structural political and governance issues, which impact human rights, must first be resolved at national level. APAC’s perceived ambivalence to human rights can be contributed to APAC’s heterogeneity, most notably in economic and development levels. APAC’s historical experience in dealing with refugees also prevents them from burden sharing. Despite the lack of consensus to the treatment of refugee and mixed migration, APAC states’ engagement in dialogues, as well as involvement in the Bali Process and other similar (but informal) processes which stimulate conversations amongst states, indicate concern, and at the very least, interest in refugee protection issues. The view that APAC is resistant to human rights must be challenged - there is a need to understand the region’s strengths and limitations, and optimize that in order to find solutions and approaches that fit the needs of refugees and balance states’ sovereignty interests. For the advancement of refugee protection in the region, we need to keep an open-mind and come up with creative solutions together, not apart.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Heintze

Research Interests

refugee studies, international law, human rights law, democratization, governance & democracy, public policy, formal institutions, and comparative, qualitative analysis


2018 ‑ present   Institute of Development Research and Development Policy (IEE), Ruhr Universität Bochum, Germany
PhD International Development Studies
2017 ‑ 2018   European Inter-University Center for Human Rights & Democratisation (EIUC), Venice, Italy / Ruhr Universität-Bochum, Germany
European Masters of Arts in Human Rights & Democratisation
2007 ‑ 2010   University of Northern Colorado, USA
Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with dual minors in Media Studies and Philosophy


Fiza Lee, “Between policy and reality”, Völkerrechtsblog, 12 August 2019, doi: 10.17176/20190812-201111-0

Work Experience and Other Activities

Sept 2019 ‑ present   English Teacher
Denker & Andree Sprachtrainings, Bochum, Germany
Feb 2019 ‑ Present   Editor, Genocide Studies & Prevention Journal
May 2019 ‑ Aug 2019   English Teacher (Summer Volunteer)
Immigrant & Refugee Center of Northern Colorado, USA
2015 ‑ 2016   Major Shareholder & Commercial Strategist
Xcellen P/L, Singapore
2013 ‑ 2015   Senior Producer – Capital Markets
Marcus Evans, Singapore
2010 ‑ 2012   Staff Writer, Office of Media Relations,
University of Northern Colorado, USA
2009 ‑ 2010   Journalist (Student Employee), UNC Mirror,
University of Northern Colorado, USA
2009 ‑ 2010   Peer Educator Intern
Assault Survivor Advocacy Program
University of Northern Colorado, USA

Grants and Awards

Nov 2019 ‑ present   PhD Scholarship
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung
July 2019 ‑ Nov 2019   Awarded PR.INT FundingRUB Research School for organizing the IFRP 2019 Conference at the IEE at RUB
Aug 2010 ‑ Dec 2010   International Student Scholarship (Fall 2010)
University of Northern Colorado, USA

Language Skills

English – Native
Malay – Native
Bahasa Indonesia – Fluent
German – Intermediate
Italian – Basic
Russian – Basic