Macquarie University
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Assessing Jordan’s Approach to Refugee Protection: The Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis as a Case Study

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posted on 2024-05-02, 04:33 authored by Mahmoud Abdelrahim Suliman Alshreifat

Jordan’s proximity to Palestine, Iraq, and Syria has made it a destination for millions of refugees and asylum seekers. Despite its long history of hosting refugees and asylum seekers, Jordan has been reluctant to sign the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol. However, in recent decades, Jordan has signed and ratified multiple human rights treaties which provide a certain degree of protection to refugees and asylum seekers in Jordan. Jordan has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the UNHCR, allowing the latter to work in Jordan and to provide certain protections for refugees and asylum seekers. In addition, in 2016, Jordan and the European Union (EU) signed the Jordan Compact, which provides additional rights and protections, particularly in relation to work rights, for Syrian refugees and asylum seekers. I argue that by signing these treaties and agreements, Jordan has created an alternative domestic protection framework for refugees and asylum seekers.

In this thesis, I examine Jordan’s approach to refugee protection, using its response to the Syrian refugee crisis as a case study. I aim to answer two central questions. First, why has Jordan refused to sign the Refugee Convention and how might the authorities in Jordan change their stance? Secondly, what are the rights and status provided by the Jordanian government for Syrian refugees and asylum seekers and to what extent do these rights comply with international refugee law? I focus, in particular, on three main rights: the principle of nonrefoulement, the right to education, and the right to work. In order to address the research questions, I combine doctrinal analysis of Jordanian law with analysis of interviews with numerous key government officials and representatives from non-governmental organisations in Jordan. I argue that sensitivities in relation to the Palestinian Question and the local integration of refugees are the main drivers behind Jordan’s reluctance to sign the Refugee Convention. I also argue that while Jordan’s alternative protection framework does not meet the standards set out in the Refugee Convention, it does provide refugees and asylum seekers with some level of protection that can provide a starting point for building a more robust protection framework.

Moreover, I argue that Jordan’s policies in responding to the Syrian crisis have changed gradually from an emergency, short-term response to a sustainable, long-term response. Finally, I argue that the permanent settlement of Syrian refugees in Jordan is a red line and not ii an option for the Jordanian government, due to the large number of Syrians in Jordan (1.3 million). In this context, I argue that Jordan is willing to continue hosting the Syrian refugees as a temporary solution and to give them access to more rights, provided that Jordan’s effort is matched with meaningful solidarity from the international community. Such solidarity cannot be only in the form of financial support but should also include a commitment to significantly increasing resettlement opportunities for refugees in Jordan.


Table of Contents

Chapter One. Introduction -- Chapter Two. History of Refugee Movements in Jordan -- Chapter Three. The International Refugee Protection Regime -- Chapter Four. Jordan’s Engagement with the International Refugee Protection Regime -- Chapter Five. Jordan’s Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis Prior to the Jordan Compact -- Chapter Six. The Legal Status and Rights of Syrian Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Jordan Prior to the Jordan Compact -- Chapter Seven. The Jordan Compact -- Chapter Eight. Conclusion -- Bibliography -- Appendix -- Ethics Approval

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Doctor of Philosophy

Department, Centre or School

Macquarie Law School

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Daniel Ghezelbash

Additional Supervisor 1

Shireen Daft

Additional Supervisor 2

Mamoun Alazab


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:






317 pages

Former Identifiers

AMIS ID: 348019