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Transcript of Refugee Presentation
Time for a Better System?
Neighboring States: Turkey, Lebanon & Jordan
The Primary Source: The Syrian Civil War
2.6 million refugees in Turkey.
1.5 million refugees in Lebanon.
1.4 million refugees in Jordan.
1.5 million refugees flee toward the EU.
The world's nations have, through the UNHCR, organized for 170,000 Refugees to be resettled.
Open Borders: Merkel & Germany
Sparked During the Arab Spring. (Early 2011)
Aimed at removing Bashar al-Assad and instilling democracy.
Escalated into a sectarian war between Shia/Alawite government forces and Sunni rebels for control of the country.
Exacerbating Factors: Invested Actors
Assad is a an important regional support for Shia Iran, Iran supplies the regime and orders the support of Hezbollah.
Sunni states and the US would like to remove Assad and depower Iran, so they supply the Sunni rebels.
Russia is closely tied to Assad/Iran, so it (and the US) block UNSC action on the conflict.
Islamic state is seizing major territory during the chaos.
Syria is spit between government, resistance, Islamic State and Kurdish forces.
The Result: Humanitarian Crisis
Due to the scale of the conflict and the actors involved; there is no end in sight.
Heavy damage to thousands of structures; including hospitals, schools and workplaces.
Syria is now a dangerous, inhospitable environment for Syrian civilians.
250,000 - 400,000 Syrians are killed.
1.5 million Syrians wounded.
13.5 million Syrians in need of aid.
7.6 million Syrians internally displaced.
6 million Syrians made refugees.
Mass Migration of Refugees to the EU
Facing appointments for processing extending into 2020, refugees push on into the EU in search of safety.
Not all refugees are Syrian, many are from Iraq, Afghanistan Libya and more.
Many trek by foot through the EU hoping to find countries which will house them.
Many hire people smugglers and land by boat in Greece, Italy and Spain.
Many more get stuck at one of the many borders within the EU; often halted by immigration authorities/forces.
A policy of short term open borders for the means of processing.
Merkel argues that EU states should establish a quota system to take pressure off states such as Greece, Italy and Bulgaria and collectively process potential refugees in a manner which does not fall dis-proportionality on border states.
She argues legitimate refugees would be protected and then states can manage migrants from there.
Essentially, she argues the issue of refugees takes precedent over concerns over economic migration.
Tentatively supported by the majority of states including Serbia, Brussels and France and actively opposed by the Hungary camp.
German citizenry is split, with some actively helping settle refugees and others protesting, committing arson attacks on refugee centers and hampering attempts to house newcomers; often said to be in response to sexual assaults.
'Fortress Europe': Orban & Hungary
More Migrants: Morocco & Spain
Thousands of migrants attempt to gain access to Europe by boat, smuggling themselves within cars or by running border fences.
Some are refugees, but most are just seeking a better life in Europe.
Morocco & Spain work together to keep migrants out of Europe.
Illegal 'push backs' are often reported; highlighting a level of non-compliance with EU immigration law.
The Current Response: "Fortress Europe"
Hundreds of millions of euros sent in aid to Greece, Spain and Bulgaria.
Hundreds of miles of razor wire fences are built to deter and control migrants.
Large camps are set up (especially in Bulgaria) to house and process refugees.
Due to the Dublin Law, processed refugees often cannot move further into Europe.
The net effect is Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Spain act as barriers to central Europe; creating a "fortress" to stem the flow of refugees and migrants.
Search and Rescue: Italy & Mare Nostrum
In response to the death of thousands of attempted migrants and Libyan refugees in the Mediterranean, Italy launched an extensive navy search and rescue operation.
The only extensive rescue program operating within the EU migrant crisis; saving over 150,000 lives.
Eventually shut down both for being a 'pull factor' and costing 100 million euros annually.
Replaced with border control measures which cost 36 million euros annually.
Refugees and Migrants are not particularly responsive to push and pull factors both because people in general a very bad as weighing risk and because they flee situations which are desperate and as bad as death.
Many migrants are ignorant to the distance they have to travel, often being exploited by shady dealers who claim they can cross the Sahara in a day and reach Europe the next with nothing but a bottle of water.
Closing borders does not stop the cause of the crisis and will not stem the flow of migration.
There is significant data which suggest that number of migrants, less so refugees, is likely to swell in the coming decades as countries develop and individuals gain the means to migrate safely.
Such a policy flies in the face of EU and international human rights law; by effectively blocking access to legitimate refugees and asylum seekers and leaving many of them to die.
This is also, clearly, a strong moral problem as well; with most states agreeing there is a moral need for action toward helping the refugees.
A policy of exclusion in favor of domestic stability.
Orban seeks to increase border controls, combat trafficking and smuggling operations and accept normal immigration flows.
He seeks to stem the tide of migration through the creation of tougher border controls within Europe; much like those seen in Greece and Italy.
These controls should in theory deter migration, slow down the flow of migrants into the EU. and allow the EU to properly protect itself against foreign fighters and potential terrorists.
This take is against the grain among EU states, but is supported by many eastern EU states.
Orban's policy is representative of a strong vein of anti-immigration sentiment present and growing amongst almost all EU states; making the maintenance of ambitious humanitarian policies politically difficult.
My Argument: Global Responsibility
The Pragmatic Angle: Global Self-Interest
Failing States & the State System:
States have a vested interest in maintaining the state system. Failing or unstable states proliferate and threaten the state system. The refugee crisis currently threatens the stability of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Greece, Italy and Bulgaria and also exacerbates problems present in Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. Instability in the region will not resolve itself and due to the volatile political climate, both great power and regional, in the Middle East there is much risk in allowing the situation to deteriorate further.
Instituting such a framework successfully would eliminate refugees from the mixed migration flows and help draw a clearer distinction between refugees and economic migrants; legitimizing efforts to keep migrants out. As such it is in the interest of states with an interest in the EU's stability to enact such a system.
Such a system could be enacted to direct effect, housing well funded refugee centers in Turkey for legitimate, guaranteed refugee processing would draw refugees away from the EU and help differentiate between migrants and refugees in the short term.
The Moral Angle: Humanity, Dignity and Democracy
Navigating the Political Barriers
Long Term Problem:
Studies show that the migrant issue will be an issue for the foreseeable future both within the EU and globally. As such, aspiring political leaders are going to need to need to tackle this issue in the long term and a policy of closed borders is unsustainable.
Drawing clearer links between the actions of states, the creation of such crises and the cost of inaction regarding mass migration should go a long way toward shifting some attitudes; as it already has to some extent within the policy community.
Control & the Economic Option:
Organizing and controlling migrant flows through such a system should help deflate the anti-immigration surge in countries like Germany, which currently take a disproportionate share of refugees, and offering an economic option allows a 'way out' for local politicians to legitimize their involvement.
Migrants & Libya: Springboard to Europe
State descended into Chaos with the fall of Gaddafi following the Arab spring.
The country has now become a beacon of temporary work for those hoping to eventually make their way to Europe.
People smugglers, some Libyan officials, run rampant, supplying migrants and refugees with inadequate boats to brave the Mediterranean.
Adds many economic migrants to the immigration flow, complicating the situation for EU immigration.
Housing massive flows of migrants, even temporarily, is beyond the realistic capacity of individual EU states and gaining broad support for such a policy is nigh impossible in the current political climate.
The influx of massive numbers of migrants without strict policing capacity will result in the entry and rooting of many economic migrants as well as refugees.
There are concerns that such a policy will have the effect of encouraging economic migrants from the Middle East and North Africa to migrate; adding to the already crushing mixed migrant flows.
In many states, even those who are in support of this policy, there are strong anti-immigration veins; often the majority.
As a result of these anti-immigration veins, there are concerns that states which take on this burden, such as Germany, may descend in civil war if such a policy fails to be implemented properly.
Caren's Test: Refugees & the Holocaust
"whatever principles or approaches we propose, we should always ask ourselves at some point 'what would this have meant if we had applied it to Jews fleeing Hitler?' And no answer will be acceptable if, when applied to the past, it would lead to the conclusion that it was justifiable to deny safe haven to the Jews trying to escape the Nazis." (p. 194)
Why Should Democratic states take in Refugees?
1) Causal Connection:
Because the actions of a state have contributed in some way to the situation which forced a refugee from their home, causal connection generates moral responsibility.
2) Humanitarian Concern:
Because they have an urgent need for a safe place to live and we have the means to provide it, supported by consensus surrounding the Holocaust argument.
3) The State System:
Because the state system has failed particular individuals, proponents of a state system should help those who are harmed by its functioning.
A person whose situation generates a strong moral claim to admission.
Systems of Admission
When a state selects refugees who have a safe haven a permanent new home. Demand far outstrips supply, with only 80,000 places available and 10 million refugees. No recognized obligation to take in refugees for resettlement.
When a state takes in a refugee in response to it recognizing that returning said person would result in endangering them or their liberties. Associated heavily with the Principle of Non-Refoulment, which most democratic states have agreed to.
Principle of Non-Refoulment:
No state shall return refugees to their home state when doing so would endanger them physically, or their rights; generally used in response to targeted political or physical insecurities.
The Current Refugee Framework
How do people apply to gain entry as refugees?
Who is considered a refugee?
Who is Considered a Refugee?
"Owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it."
Caren's argues this definition is flawed, as it only provides asylum for those directly targeted and does not protect those who are fleeing civil war or famines and prioritizes methods of exploitation over severity of harm or need.
"Refugees [are] persons who are outside their country of nationality or habitual residence and unable to return there owing to serious and indiscriminate threats to life, physical integrity or freedom resulting from generalized violence of events seriously disturbing public order."
Caren's argues this definition is more appropriate and more accurately captures the priorities a refugee definition should entail.
Caren's also argues for a clear separation of the questions "how are we best to deal with a refugee generating situation" and "should a refugee be granted asylum?".
What is Owed to Refugees?
To secure the safety of the refugees and to protect their basic human rights and to provide those without long term chances of a sufficient life in their original home with a new permanent home.
Caren's take is that the convention identifies that it is not enough to merely protect a refugee's safety, but that they are also owed membership to a society.
He further argues that the Principle of Non-Refoulment highlights a moral logic: That the physical presence of a refugee a state's soil generates moral responsibility.
But he argues that this is not a sufficient response, as it does not generate a system in which refugees are equitably spread among states and generates disproportionate claims on particular states.
Carens identifies two key cases where the current system of reliance upon non-refoulment generates issues.
Most refugees flee to the nearest safe state, so the vast majority of refugees find themselves in neighboring states and as such place a disproportionate burden on these states.
Carens argues that while it is acceptable to expect a neighboring state to house a bigger share of refugees in the short term it does not follow that the burden of paying for their stay should fall on them or that they should incorporate them into their own state.
Rich Democratic States:
Refugees, if they have a choice, will tend to choose richer democratic states as their place of refuge to start a new life and economic migrants may abuse the asylum system to gain entry.
Carens argues that this is a non-issue in practice, as democratic states have enacted policies which effectively deter would be claimants. He further claims that these policies are immoral as they fail the Jewish test.
Lastly, Carens argues that these burdens are mitigated by the fact that most claimants are not lawyers and as such can not abuse the system well. He further adds that most asylum seekers are genuine and those that are not are indistinguishable from real ones due to their desperate situation, resorting to drastic measures to ensure they are not sent home.
Carens proposes two ways to solve the non-refoulment problems.
Resettlement as a Strict Duty:
Carens argues that resettlement should be seen as a strict duty rather than a generous gift and that states should take in refugees based on their immigration history, capacity, population density and economic level.
Carens argues the biggest barrier to such a system is not our disagreements over what is fair, but our reluctance to do what is morally required of us.
Breaking the Link Between Claim and Place:
Carens argues that separating where a refugee finds initial asylum and where they ultimately find a permanent home would mitigate targeted asylum claims.
Carens also argues that, while appealing, such a system has the flaw of making it difficult to ensure the rights of those sent to other states and would be politically unpopular due to the requirement for democratic states to pay for these programs.
The Limits of our Obligations
Locals vs Refugees:
Carens highlights that in situations where a state must legitimately weight the good of public order it is acceptable for a state to reject legitimate refugees.
Carens adds the caveat however that such a situation among democratic states almost never happens and this threshold likely only applies to neighboring states in practice.
"The final judgment must be left with the members of a community as to when they have done their fair share for refugees."
Carens argues that this position, which represents the norm in the literature, is deeply flawed as it confuses the question of "who should decide?" with "what is moral?". People can make a decision and have that be immoral and this suggestion fails the Jewish test.
Finally, Carens argues that overall there is a conflict between self interest and morality on this issue and that states are unlikely to act upon their moral charge unless it as seen as minimally costly.
Key Areas of Disagreement With Carens
Carens on Mixed Migrant Flows
We owe to refugees safety, for them and their human rights, within our borders and should not turn away refugees in any situation which is analogous with returning Jews to Nazi Germany
The current system is deeply flawed and places disproportionate burdens on democratic states and especially neighboring states.
Making refugee admittance a duty and separating initial refugee claims and final resettlement destination would help solve these issues.
The only time refugees should be turned away is when admitting more refugees would disrupt the public order; but this is almost never the case.
There is a conflict between self interest and morality for western states and they are unlikely to act upon their moral duty unless this conflict is mitigated.
Humanity Based Obligations:
Carens theory of social membership could be seen to have a softer, global relation which encompasses humanity. We all have some level of connection to each other and as such have some collective responsibility to help out. This is to some extent implied within human rights law.
Foreign Policy Links:
Democratic states, and some other world powers such as Russia, have a strong link to the instability in the Middle East and North Africa both through recent foreign policy and historic colonialism. As such, they have a disproportionate claim to enact a system to remedy the effects of their actions.
Borrowing again from Carens' theory of social membership, citizens of former colonies may have strong membership claims due to imperial, cultural roots giving rise to a stronger claim for admissions.
States have already committed to give refugees certain rights and are clearly not justified in their current policy of granting no rights in practice; the current policy needs to be replaced with a workable alternative.
The Framework in Practice
The ability for states to sell or buy obligations to refugees given the ability to house all legitimate claims within the system as a whole.
Designed to meet the needs of refugees as a base, but also balance global stability concerns resulting from migration.
Should ideally involve as many states as possible; including Russia, China etc. But would likely begin as a western enterprise.
Could involve an EU 'test run' before global implementation. Initially pitched as an investment in EU stability, then broadened to meet the global needs of refugees and states.
Mistreatment of migrants:
Removing the flow of refugees from mix migrant flows might lead to the mistreatment of economic migrants in favor of meeting the needs of refugees.
Lack of UN enforcement measures:
Without proper enforcement measures, there is little stopping states from continuing their trend of avoiding moral responsibility through shady policy.
It could be argued that, despite the benefits of such a program lining up with self interest, states may still lack political will to initiate such a policy in the wake of immigration skepticism globally.
Populism & Euroskepticism:
Even if political will can be mustered at the global level, some might argue that the rise of populism in response to the crisis would preclude a European answer; as populist, nationalist forces block any collective action.
Makes Local Resettlement Difficult:
Resettling refugees en-mass away from the region makes the ideal solution of sending refugees home less likely. Could be combined with EEZ's to mitigate.
States clearly have a moral duty to admit Syrian, and other, refugees.
States do not have a strict duty to take on economic migrants.
The difficulty encountered by mixed migrant flows does not remove the responsibility to aid refugees; except, maybe, in the case of neighboring states.
Carens likely favors a solution similar to Merkel's plan for refugee quotas as it would ensure the meeting of the EU's responsibility to refugees.
Carens might also argue that former colonies and proponents of disastrous foreign policy generate stronger claims for admissions.
Turned Away at the Border
Under the current system, may refugees are turned away at the border as a means to circumvent local EU law and international refugee law surrounding the Principle of Non-Refoulment.
Such a policy is clearly immoral, as it is a method that effectively denies refugees the rights they are owed under the convention; perpetuating a system where they have rights only in name and not in practice.
Also, the logic used by the Hungarian camp clearly mimics that of the Jewish example and as such fails Carens basic test for morality.
The few countries where this might be acceptable are Greece, Turkey, Lebanon or Jordan; but certainly not countries like Hungary, France, the UK etc.
Such policies are indicative of Carens prediction that, even within the EU, states will not act against what they perceive as their own best interest; shifting responsibility onto border states rather than helping.
Caren's Framework & Merkel's Solution
Merkel's plan to share the burden among EU states could be meshed very well with Caren's ideas.
Such a system could incorporate a disconnect between claim and place, mitigating the negative effects of selective migration.
Such a system also entails a responsibility to admit refugees under the EU system; or at very least contribute significant amounts financially in order to share the burden; a big step away from the current system of generosity.
As such, it seems Caren's and Merkel are on a similar page and Caren's ideas solve the pull factor issue Merkel is charged with creating via separating claim and place.
Colonialism, Foreign Policy & Claim
Under Carens theory of social membership, the moral relevance of social connection could give rise to moral claims for the now stateless refugees; as the strongest connection they have to a viable state is now their former colonizers.
Similarly, the direct impact of failed western foreign policy upon the war in Syria, as well as the negative impacts on states toppled via interventions such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, also generates strong moral claims to entry for refugees from these places.
Carens might argue that the US in particular has a very strong direct responsibility and as such should account. But, as all western states broadly benefit from such policy moves, they could, with some exceptions, be considered complicit; generating a broader claim than just the US.
Migrant Crisis as a Critique of Carens' View
Applying Carens' view to the migrant crisis exposes two potential issues:
1) Caren's take assumes the ability of states to police admissions. In the case of the EU, Orban's camp would argue that to allow in refugees would encourage more migration and the EU already cannot keep out economic migrants; effectively arguing that admitting refugees undermines the state's ability to police future refugee flows.
2) Carens' social membership theory could, in effect, force states overrun with economic migrants to be morally compelled to accept them in the long term; even if this creates integration and domestic instability issues.
A Better Refugee System & State Interests
1) If the undue impact of the state system is enough to generate claims for refugees, is the negative effects of capitalist or colonial relations enough to generate claims on suffering economic migrants?
2) Carens argues that it is unwillingness to do what is morally required of states that is a key barrier to better refugee policy; but he ignores some of the very real concerns the EU might have in the current context; such as populism, radicalization etc.
3) Carens argues that self-interest can only be aligned with refugee policy through appealing to specific cultural facets. But, while states may think a comprehensive refugee system is against their interests, they may be wrong and the political barriers may not be as high as Carens implies.
We will cover this later...
Stability Concerns & EU States
To claim that EU states do not have legitimate security concerns from incoming migration is deeply flawed; as the severe impact migration has had on Italy, Greece and Bulgaria shows.
While in general terrorist threats tend to emanate from within states, there have been multiple reports of foiled attempts of attacks within Germany and an inability to screen migrants properly due to volume is a serious concern.
Long term security concerns, such as those posed by second generation muslims, could be considered significant as well and are not considered.
Migration inspired populism could also be considered a drastic threat to the region; with semi fascist groups having a resurgence in the wake of fear over migration.
Colonial/Capitalist History & Claim
Carens argues that the establishment of the state system generates responsibility on those who benefit from that history.
If the negative impacts of the state system can be considered casual for refugees, it seems consistent to claim that economic migrants from Ex colonies in Africa have a similar claim; as their imposed history has placed them in a system of exploitation or at very least disadvantage.
It could be argued that if we should accept the first we must, at some level, accept the second. Perhaps Carens would be okay with this, but it conflicts pretty hard with his attempt to remain within the conventional framework.
Global refugee system based on an model similar to Carens and Merkel.
Normatively required, the current system fails even basic human rights requirements.
Due to the link between stability, the global system and its cost on states; it is in the best interest of states to implement a new system.
Political barriers are very real, but perhaps overstated.