Labelling the 'Boat People': The Failure of the Human Rights Mandate of the Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indochinese Refugees

James C. Hathaway, University of Michigan Law School

Copyright © 1993 by The Johns Hopkins University Press. This article first appeared in Human Rights Quarterly 15, no. 4 (1993), 686-702. Reprinted with permission by Johns Hopkins University Press.


The legal status of Vietnamese asylum-seekers has not been defined in a consistently principled way. Initially, the Vietnamese boat people benefitted from a presumption of genuine refugee status codified at the 1979 Conference on Indochinese Refugees. As refugees, the Vietnamese were offered both temporary asylum in Asia and permanent resettlement overseas.