Refugee law and states' obligations
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The current legal definition of the term ‘refugee’ fails to recognise the centrality of refugees’ hardship and in doing so draws morally arbitrary distinctions between different types of refugees. I use Wiggins’ 1987 paper to give us reason to think that hardship ought to be central to morality. From here I make hardship the core of a modified legal definition of the term ‘refugee’. Then I explore moral obligations that states have to refugees in virtue of their hardship. First, I ask whom states are obligated to and show that the only morally relevant distinguishing feature between refugees is the ‘level’ of hardship they experience. Second, I ask what kinds of moral and legal obligations states have to refugees. I argue that states’ moral obligations to ‘give refuge’ are perfect duties and that states’ legal obligations differ for different types of refugees.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
Description of related resourcesUNHCR. 1951. “Text of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees”, CSR, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) The UN Refugee Agency, Date Accessed: 24. 03.15 http://www.unhcr.org/3b66c2aa10.html
UNHCR. 1967. “Text of the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees”, United nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) The UN Refugee Agency, Date Accessed: 24. 03.15 http://www.unhcr.org/3b66c2aa10.html
Wiggins, David. 1987. Needs, Values, Truth, Clarendon Press, Oxford, pp1-33
Singer, Peter. 1972. “Famine and Affluence”, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol.1, No.3, pp 229-243
Anderson, E. 1999. “What is the Point of Equality”, Ethics, Vol. 109, No. 2, January, pp 287-337.
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