24.4 or 753 million refugees? The case for context Event as iCalendar

(School of Humanities, Politics and International Relations, Philosophy)

26 March 2019

4 - 6pm

Venue: VC Suite, Old Government House

Adam Dalgleish

Who are refugees? Are they a special group targeted for persecution? Or a class of people demarcated by their dire need for international safe haven? How we define this group matters immensely. If we follow legal scholars towards the pragmatism of the convention account, refugees fit within the current 25.4 million cohort. If we think harm lies at the core of our duties, as ethicists tend to, then we potentially open up refugee status to many of the 753 million members of the global poor.

In this seminar, I canvas the development of modern convention and humanitarian attempts to define the category of refugee and defend a refined version of Mathew Lister’s definition predicated on dire need and an inability to be assisted via other international mechanisms. I then fill practical gaps in both Lister’s and my own account via fleshing out the ‘moral context’ surrounding these definitions. In the process, I aim to both provide a plausible moral story for excluding dire economic migrants from my harm-based account and why states may not have pressing duties to provide a ‘route out of limbo’ for protracted refugees.