Skip to main content

Introduction

  • 62 Accesses

Part of the International Political Theory book series (IPoT)

Abstract

This introduction outlines the book’s basic argument that asylum should at times act as a form of reparation for the unjustified harms of displacement. Noting that the main theoretical conceptions of asylum, such as the dominant humanitarian approach, neglect the external causes of forced migration, Souter explains why these causes matter deeply when analysing states’ responsibilities to refugees, referring to examples such as military intervention, environmental displacement and post-colonial conflict. He shows that a full engagement with such causes should lead us towards a distinct reparative approach to asylum, which recognises that certain states bear special responsibilities to refugees where they are responsible for their flight. Souter establishes the importance of reparative justice for understanding asylum and introduces key ethical questions raised by this approach.

Keywords

  • Asylum
  • Reparation
  • Refugees
  • Forced migration
  • Responsibility

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-62448-4_1
  • Chapter length: 19 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   89.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-62448-4
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Hardcover Book
USD   119.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Notes

  1. 1.

    The 1951 Refugee Convention defines a refugee as an individual with a ‘well-founded fear of persecution’ on various grounds who is ‘outside their country of nationality’, and excludes those displaced for other reasons and those who remain within the borders of their own states.

  2. 2.

    While there are also a number of vital ethical questions surrounding the proper response to refugees by non-state actors—from the role of multinational corporations in creating displacement, to the proper response of civil society organisations to the arrival of refugees—my focus in this book is on the responsibilities of states. This is because the state generally remains the central actor with the capacity to respond to the plight of refugees in the contemporary world, given their control of access to territory that refugees need to enter in order to avoid serious harm.

  3. 3.

    Although Matthew Price’s view of asylum as a potential form of condemnation recognises the internal causes of forced migration, by seeing asylum as a remedy for those facing persecution at the hands of their own states (Price, 2009), the other accounts canvassed briefly at the start of this chapter do not engage with the external causes of forced migration in any depth.

  4. 4.

    In this respect, my argument has parallels with theoretical work that seeks to challenge the framing of global issues as causally unconnected with Western actions, such as global poverty (Pogge, 2002) and humanitarian intervention (e.g. Dunford & Neu, 2019; Nili, 2011).

  5. 5.

    The Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act asserted that ‘the United States has a fundamental obligation to help the vast number of Iraqis displaced in Iraq and throughout the region by the war and the associated chaos, especially those who have supported America’s efforts in Iraq’ (United States, 2008).

  6. 6.

    Discussions include: Bader (2005: 346–347), Blake (2013: 114–119), Carens (2013: 195), Coen (2017), Ferracioli (2020: 195–196), Mark Gibney (1986: 79–108, 1991), Matthew Gibney (2004: 48–57), Holtug (2016: 285–286), Lennox (1993), Miller (2016: 113–114), Owen (2020: 67), Shacknove (1988: 140–141), Walzer (1983: 48–51), and Wilcox (2007). More recently, however, a few scholars have offered somewhat more detailed explorations of states’ reparative obligations towards the environmentally displaced (e.g. Buxton, 2019; Draper, 2018; Eckersley, 2015), war refugees (Davidovic, 2016; Kling, 2019), and migrants more generally (e.g. Achiume, 2019; Bosniak, 2016: 209–217; Collste, 2015: ch. 12; Glanville, 2020; Nevins, 2019).

  7. 7.

    For instance, in his discussion of states’ responsibilities to refugees, Mark Gibney (1986: 80) sees the ‘harm principle’ as being ‘such an intuitive concept that it nearly defies justification’.

  8. 8.

    In Chapter 5, where I address this question in depth, I use the term ‘justified displacement’ to refer to both the intentional displacement of refugees, and flight that is an unintended by-product of external states’ actions, giving more attention to the latter kind of case.

  9. 9.

    Indeed, there are a number of other special responsibilities that states may bear towards refugees. These include the responsibility of refugees’ states of origin to readmit and reintegrate their estranged citizens (Bradley, 2013); the responsibility of states which, by receiving refugees onto their territory, acquire a duty of non-refoulement (Miller, 2016: 84); and states’ associative duties towards refugees on the basis of political, social or cultural ties those refugees may have to a state of asylum that stem from colonial legacies (e.g. see Amighetti & Nuti, 2016; Smith, 2008, 2014). While recognising these other forms of special responsibility to refugees, my focus in this work is on states’ reparative obligations arising from the act of causing or contributing to refugees’ flight.

  10. 10.

    I am grateful to Blair Peruniak for suggesting this point.

  11. 11.

    For a rectificatory argument with a parallel structure, see Butt (2009: 14).

  12. 12.

    The argument presented in this book is also therefore of a contextualist character, taking one principle that is firmly embedded in a particular normative context, rather than basing it on any foundational or metaphysical truth. Although this renders the argument readily applicable to liberal-democratic states (given both their commitment to principles of reparation and their roles in the production of refugees), it also potentially applies to non-democratic states which also generate refugees and adhere in their laws and policies to a conception of reparative justice. For a discussion of contextualism with reference to the ethics of immigration, see Carens (2004).

  13. 13.

    Outcome responsibility, as I explain in Chapter 3, is a term broadly defined by the legal scholar Tony Honoré (1999: 14) as ‘being responsible for the good and harm we bring about by what we do’, and has been taken up in work on global justice by David Miller (2007: ch. 4).

  14. 14.

    For broader theoretical definitions of the refugee, see Shacknove (1985), and Gibney (2004: 7).

  15. 15.

    For a critique of the use of idealism and realism in political theory concerning refugees, see Sandelind (2019).

  16. 16.

    I am grateful to Daniel Butt and Katy Long for prompting this point.

References

  • Achiume, E. T. (2019). Migration as decolonization. Stanford Law Review, 71(6), 1509–1574.

    Google Scholar 

  • Adepoju, A. (1982). The dimension of the refugee problem in Africa. African Affairs, 81(322), 21–35.

    Google Scholar 

  • Amighetti, S., & Nuti, A. (2016). A nation’s right to exclude and the colonies. Political Theory, 44(4), 541–566.

    Google Scholar 

  • Anthony, C. G. (1991). Africa’s refugee crisis: State building in historical perspective. International Migration Review, 25(3), 574–591.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bader, V. (2005). The ethics of immigration. Constellations, 12(3), 331–361.

    Google Scholar 

  • Blake, M. (2013). Immigration, causality, and complicity. In S. R. Ben-Porath & R. M. Smith (Eds.), Varieties of sovereignty and citizenship (pp. 111–123). University of Philadelphia Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bosniak, L. (2016). Wrongs, rights and regularization. Moral Philosophy and Politics, 3(2), 187–222.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bradley, M. (2013). Refugee repatriation: Justice, responsibility and redress. Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bradley, M., & Duthie, R. (2014). Introduction. Journal of Refugee Studies, 27(2), 161–170.

    Google Scholar 

  • Butt, D. (2009). Rectifying international injustice: Principles of compensation and restitution between nations. Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Buxton, R. (2019). Reparative justice for climate refugees. Philosophy, 94(2), 193–219.

    Google Scholar 

  • Carens, J. H. (1987). Aliens and citizens: The case for open borders. Review of Politics, 49(2), 251–273.

    Google Scholar 

  • Carens, J. H. (2003). Who should get in? The ethics of immigration admissions. Ethics and International Affairs, 17(1), 95–110.

    Google Scholar 

  • Carens, J. H. (2004). A contextual approach to political theory. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 7(2), 117–132.

    Google Scholar 

  • Carens, J. H. (2013). The ethics of immigration. Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chatty, D., & Marfleet, P. (2009). Iraq’s refugees—Beyond ‘tolerance’. Forced migration policy briefing 4. Refugee Studies Centre.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chatty, D., & Mansour, N. (2012). Displaced Iraqis: Predicaments and perceptions in exile in the Middle East. Refuge, 28(1), 97–107.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chimni, B. S. (1998). The geopolitics of refugee studies: A view from the South. Journal of Refugee Studies, 11(4), 350–374.

    Google Scholar 

  • Coen, A. (2017). Capable and culpable? The United States, RtoP, and refugee responsibility-sharing. Ethics and International Affairs, 31(1), 71–92.

    Google Scholar 

  • Collste, G. (2015). Global rectificatory justice. Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Davidovic, J. (2016). What do we owe refugees: Jus ad bellum, duties to refugees from armed conflict zones and the right to asylum. Journal of Global Ethics, 12(3), 347–364.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dodge, T. (2012). Iraq: From war to a new authoritarianism. Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Draper, J. (2018). Responsibility and climate-induced displacement. Global Justice: Theory Practice Rhetoric, 11(2), 59–80.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dunford, R., & Neu, M. (2019). The responsibility to protect in a world of already existing intervention. European Journal of International Relations, 25(4), 1080–1102.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eckersley, R. (2015). The common but differentiated responsibilities of states to assist and receive ‘climate refugees.’ European Journal of Political Theory, 14(4), 481–500.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ferracioli, L. (2020). Refugees, rescue, and choice. In D. Miller & C. Straehle (Eds.), The political philosophy of refuge (pp. 193–210). Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ferris, E., & Kirişci, K. (2016). The consequences of chaos: Syria’s humanitarian crisis and the failure to protect. Brookings Institution Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • FitzGerald, D. S. (2019). Refuge beyond reach: How rich democracies repel asylum seekers. Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gibney, M. (1986). Strangers or friends: Principles for a new alien admission policy. Greenwood.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gibney, M. (1991). U.S. foreign policy and the creation of refugee flows. In H. Adelman (Ed.) Refugee policy. Canada and the United States (pp. 81–111). York Lanes Press Ltd.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gibney, M. J. (2004). The ethics and politics of asylum: Liberal democracy and the response to refugees. Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Glanville, L. (2020). Hypocritical inhospitality: The global refugee crisis in the light of history. Ethics and International Affairs, 34(1), 3–12.

    Google Scholar 

  • Holtug, N. (2016). A fair distribution of refugees in the European Union. Journal of Global Ethics, 12(3), 279–288.

    Google Scholar 

  • Honoré, T. (1999). Responsibility and Fault. Hart Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hovil, L. (2019). Telling truths about migration. International Journal of Transitional Justice, 13(2), 199–205.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hovil, L., & Lomo, Z. A. (2015). Forced displacement and the crisis of citizenship in Africa’s Great Lakes region: Rethinking refugee protection and durable solutions. Refuge, 31(2), 39–50.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kling, J. (2019). War refugees: Risk, justice, and moral responsibility. Lexington Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Klinghoffer, A. J. (1998). The international dimension of genocide in Rwanda. Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lennox, M. (1993). Refugees, racism, and reparations: A critique of the United States’ Haitian immigration policy. Stanford Law Review, 45(3), 687–724.

    Google Scholar 

  • McAdam, J. (2012). Climate change, forced migration and international law. Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Miller, D. (2007). National responsibility and global justice. Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Miller, D. (2016). Strangers in our midst: The political philosophy of immigration. Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mills, C. W. (2009). Rawls on race/race in rawls. The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 47, 161–184.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nevins, J. (2019). Migration as reparations. In R. Jones (Ed.), Open borders: In defense of free movement (pp. 129–140). University of Georgia Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nili, S. (2011). Humanitarian disintervention. Journal of Global Ethics, 7(1), 33–46.

    Google Scholar 

  • Otunnu, O. (1992). Too many, too long: African refugee crisis revisited. Refuge, 12(3), 18–26.

    Google Scholar 

  • Owen, D. (2016). In loco civitatis: On the normative basis of the institution of refugeehood and responsibilities for refugees. In S. Fine & L. Ypi (Eds.), Migration in political theory: The ethics of movement and membership (pp. 269–289). Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Owen, D. (2020). What do we owe to refugees? Polity Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Parekh, S. (2020). Reframing the refugee crisis: From rescue to interconnection. Ethics and Global Politics, 13(1), 21–32.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pogge, T. W. (2002). World poverty and human rights: Cosmopolitan rights and reforms. Polity.

    Google Scholar 

  • Price, M. (2009). Rethinking asylum: History, purpose, and limits. Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Prunier, G. (1995). The Rwanda crisis: History of a genocide. Hurst and Company.

    Google Scholar 

  • Romm, J. (2018). Climate change: What everyone needs to know. Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sandelind, C. (2019). Can the welfare state justify restrictive asylum policies? A critical approach. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 22, 331–346.

    Google Scholar 

  • Seglow, J. (2013). Immigration. In H. LaFollette (Ed.), The international encyclopaedia of ethics (Vol. V, pp. 2549–2560). Wiley-Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shacknove, A. E. (1985). Who is a refugee? Ethics, 95(2), 274–284.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shacknove, A. E. (1988). American duties to refugees: Their scope and limits. In M. Gibney (Ed.), Open borders? Closed societies? The ethical and political issues (pp. 131–149). Greenwood Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Smith, R. M. (2008). The principle of constituted identities and the obligation to include. Ethics and Global Politics, 1(3), 139–153.

    Google Scholar 

  • Smith, R. M. (2014). National obligations and noncitizens: Special rights, human rights, and immigration. Politics and Society, 42(3), 381–398.

    Google Scholar 

  • Song, S. (2018). Immigration and democracy. Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Souleimanov, E. A., & Dzutsati, V. (2018). Russia’s Syria war: A strategic trap? Middle East Policy, 25(2), 42–50.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stansfield, G. (2007). Iraq: People, history, politics. Polity.

    Google Scholar 

  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). (2021). Global trends: Forced displacement in 2020. https://www.unhcr.org/uk/statistics/unhcrstats/60b638e37/global-trends-forced-displacement-2020.html Accessed 23 June 2021.

  • United States. (2008). S.1651 (110th): Refugee crisis in Iraq Act, 110th Congress, 2007–2009. Text as of June 19, 2007 (Introduced). https://www.congress.gov/bill/110th-congress/senate-bill/1651/text. Accessed 24 June 2020.

  • Walzer, M. (1973). Political action: The problem of dirty hands. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 2(2), 160–180.

    Google Scholar 

  • Walzer, M. (1983). Spheres of justice: A defence of pluralism and equality. Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wilcox, S. (2007). Immigrant admissions and global relations of harm. Journal of Social Philosophy, 38(2), 274–291.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Souter, J. (2022). Introduction. In: Asylum as Reparation . International Political Theory. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-62448-4_1

Download citation