Saule Emrich-Bakenova, Ph.D. in Public Policy from Carleton University (Canada), Assistant Professor, Department of Public Administration, KIMEP University (Almaty, Kazakhstan)


This paper examines recent developments in refugee policy in the Republic of Kazakhstan. Specifically it considers the context of adoption of policy outputthe Refugee Lawand Kazakhstans compliance with international commitments on providing socioeconomic support to refugee community. The analysis reveals that ratification and subsequent steps to put international policy into practice in this particular case are symbolic gestures to gain legitimation in international society without actually aligning the domestic legal system with international commitments. Although the Refugee Law appears to grant rights and protections consistent with international accords, it does so only superficially as these are undermined by a complex set of national laws and policies that have precedence over the Refugee Law. Only after the Refugee Law was adopted, Kazakhstan under intensive pressure of international organizations started slowly bringing its refugee policy into actual compliance with international standards. The process, even though important, has proved to be very slow, cumbersome and only piecemeal and in reality has amounted to walking in place.

Keywords: Kazakhstan, human rights, socioeconomic rights, symbolic policy, dysfunctional law, refugees, asylum seekers.


Kazakhstan is a participant in more than 60 multilateral universal international treaties in the sphere of human rights, including the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its Protocol to which it joined in 1998. In signing the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol, the country committed to observing international standards on refugee policy and specifically to according to lawful refugees treatment as favorable as possible with respect to socioeconomic rights. Implementation of

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