Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Middle East Studies

Second Department

Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

Lara Deeb

Reader 2

Sumita Pahwa

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2015 Cameron N. Campbell


With almost 4 million registered Syrian refugees, the UN has called it the world’s worst refugee crisis. The influx of 628,000 asylum-seekers to neighboring Jordan has tested its strength and protection capabilities. The UNHCR is the organizational spearhead of the international refugee regime, the set of rights and procedural structures upon which signatory States agree to protect refugee rights. This ethnographic research contributes lived experience to the existing quantitative scholarship on the Syrian refugee influx in Jordan. Spending the long days of Ramadan with young adult Syrian national urban refugees, I learned about the gaps between respondents’ hardships in establishing secure lives, and the rights the UNHCR guarantees for them in Amman.

This thesis argues that respondents’ experiences reflect the systematic failure of refugee protection due to inherent weaknesses of the refugee regime. Gaps in protections are the logical result of the expanding role of nation-states, as self-interested actors, in making important decisions in the enforcement of refugee rights. I argue that the expanding interest of Northern States’ to limit immigration since September 11th has rendered the UNHCR incapable of providing refugees the levels of protection they are guaranteed. The refugee regime makes certain assumptions of the host country’s carrying capacity, as well as assumptions that other nation-states will willingly open its doors for Syrian refugee resettlement. Since the UNHCR cannot rely upon Northern states committing themselves to third country resettlement, refugees can no longer expect the refugee regime to uphold its mandate that it was founded to ensure.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.