Aid and strategic interests: Australia’s response to the flow of refugees and asylum-seekers

This paper will discuss the thesis that not only is there a nexus between the official development assistance (ODA) allocations from donor-States and the promotion of their strategic and political interests, but that these interests may include allocating aid in order to prevent the flow of refugees and asylum-seekers to the donor-State. It will be demonstrated that this can apply to Australia’s strategic interests, but also that the definition of ODA is too narrow to clearly articulate the extent to which strategic interests influence aid allocations. By examining both ODA and non-ODA allocations from Australia, it will be shown that Australia’s aid allocations are integral to its management of unauthorised maritime arrivals, or refugee flows. It will be argued that Australia’s response to refugee flows applies to its allocation of aid to countries of origin, transit countries and countries that house Australia’s regional processing centres and resettle its asylum-seekers. Although Australia’s aid relationship with certain, strategically important, recipient States is not new, what is new is the manifest recognition of the significance of these relationships in Australia’s response to refugee flows, which is further exemplified by the reduction of ODA to less strategically significant regions.

Author(s): 

Nicola Knackstredt has completed an LLM in Human Rights & Social Policy from UNSW Australia (2014).

Publish Date: 
November, 2015
Publication title: 
AJHR 21-1
Publication URL: