The article, “Ethics, Refugees and the President’s Executive Order” provides a good starting point to assess the important discussion on the Ethics of Refugee Crisis.
The US is the signatory on the Geneva Convention on refugees and the 1967 protocol on refugees.
Even though there is a nationalist philosophy that states that a refugee is not our problem, the predominant philosophy on this subject matter is quite different.
That philosophy says that the refugee crisis is a global problem, people are in need, and we have the capacity to help (Walzer 1984).
The reasoning behind this philosophy is that, helping the refugee is a matter of life and death and that sacrifices that are made in order to help a refugee are minimal when compared to their long term effects.
Although states may disagree as to the degree of their responsibility, what does happen in the circumstance when a state refuses to help is that it imposes an unfair burden on the state that does.
Zygmunt Bauman said, “Humanity is in crisis. There is no exit from that crisis other than the solidarity of humans” (Evans and Bauman 2016).
According to the author and I concur on this:
Ethics is both a method—analyzing the ethical acceptability of a policy or program based on morally relevant criteria—and a set of moral values shared by a community.
The author then moves to analyze the recent executive order by the president through two criteria of moral acceptability.
- The order’s effectiveness
- The Order’s fairness.
The author discredits the effectiveness of the executive order by providing us with the fact that the between 1975 – 2015, zero people have been killed by the people from the seven banned countries.
The author then provides 3 different criteria for fairness:
- Equal Opportunity.
- Procedural Fairness
- Fairness as Reciprocity
The article “Introduction: The Responsibility to Protect and the Refugee Protection Regime. Ethics and International Affairs” discusses the Responsibility to Protect framework and the protection of populations from crimes of genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Although RtoP is very much a foreign policy issue, the author suggests that there exists a spirit behind the initiative that may turn the issue inwards.
Hence, the question that is asked is that if RtoP deems military intervention inappropriate then two questions arise.
If populations are seeking protection by fleeing atrocity crimes, does RtoP require states to open their borders to receive them?
And if such action is indeed implied by this norm, are states currently failing in their responsibility to protect?
Further critiques of the RtoP framework are addressed in the paper.
Additional resources on the topic such as a project by Compas, University of Oxford.
Navigating unfreedoms & re-imagining ethical counter-conducts: Caring about refugees & asylum seekers (Interesting article referencing Focault and the Ethics of Care).
(Additional thoughts forthcoming).