There are many calls for reforming the way the world protects, or fails to protect, refugees. Some have suggested that the UN Refugee Convention is out-dated, others that the right to seek asylum should be abolished or that asylum claims should be processed off-shore. At the same time, the UNHCR has been drafting a Global Compact on Refugees, promising to increase global cooperation on refugee protection. James Hathaway, James E. and Sarah A. Degan Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, is the founding director of the University of Michigan’s Program in Refugee Asylum Law and author of two leading treatises: The Law of Refugee Status and of The Rights of Refugees under International Law.
James Hathaway has put forward a model for a global solution to refugee protection, based on a five year project involving over 100 participants, including six governments. You can read the findings of that project here (pdf) and here (pdf). You can also listen to James Hathaway devloping the idea of the need for binding reform here.
The images of children in cages, separated from their parents, at the US-Mexico border have upset people across the world. Part of a so called ‘zero-tolerance’ policy against ‘illegal’ migration, everyone crossing the border, even to apply for asylum, become subject of criminal prosecution. To facilitate this, almost 2000 children have been separated from their parents. But why is this happening now? What is being done to reunite the families? Who are the people trying to cross the border and what about their right to apply for asylum? To help answer these questions, we speak to Gabriella Sanchez, Research Fellow at the Migration Policy Centre at the European University Institute.
Gabriella Sanchez has previously been interviewed in this podcast about migrant smuggling at the US-Mexico border.
Public and policy debates about immigration in most parts of the world are pursued on the assumption that states have the right to exclude immigrants, if they so wish, perhaps with the exception of refugees. The main questions are how states can manage migration – who and how many immigrants a state should let in. But do states really have this right, morally, to exclude others from settling on their territory? In his new book, Do States Have the Right to Exclude Immigrants?, Christopher Bertram, Professor in Social and Political Philosophy at the University of Bristol, argues that in most cases states do not have such a right. Instead, Bertram suggests, migration should be governed globally and states would have to justify to this global governance entity any restrictions they wanted to place on movement.
In this episode, Bertram discusses his book, its methodology and central argument. He has also developed some of these arguments here and a short summary here.
Many people express and urge others to stand in solidarity with refugees. In 2016, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke about the 65 million forcibly displaced in the world, addressing the UNHCR Executive Committee. He said: ‘The numbers are staggering. Each one represents a human life. But this is not a crisis of numbers. It is a crisis of solidarity.’
But, what does it mean to stand in solidarity with refugees? What precisely is a crisis of solidarity? What is one committed to when one expresses solidarity? This has been the topic of a project funded by the White Rose University Consortium, led by Kerri Woods, Lecturer in Political Theory at the University of Leeds, Alice Nah, Lecturer at the Centre for Applied Human Rights at the University of York, and the producer of this podcast, Clara Sandelind, Leverhulme Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield. You can read more about the project, ‘Understanding Solidarity Amid Refugee Crises’, here. Find out more about Kerri Woods’ work on solidarity and human rights, and Alice Nah’s work on refugees and human rights (pdf).
In this episode, we discuss some of the topics and conclusions drawn throughout this project, which are currently being collated and finalised for a Special Issue. This page will be updated when the Special Issue is published.
If you have worked for a Western military in places such as Afghanistan or Iraq, you may think that you would be able to settle in the Western country that you worked for, especially if your life is at risk due to the work you performed. But things are not that straight forward. A new report by the UK parliament’s Commons defence select committee is highly critical of how the UK government has treated Afghan interpreters and other civilians who are not safe in Afghanistan. Earlier this month, the UK government made some concessions towards interpreters who have applied for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
Yet many people’s lives are still in limbo, including Nazir Ayeen’s, a former Afghan interpreter now living in the UK, who joins this episode to discuss how the UK and other Western countries treat their former military employees. We are also joined by Dr Sara de Jong, Research Fellow at the Open University. Sara de Jong currently conducts research on the claims for protection, rights and settlement by Afghans and Iraqis who have worked for Western military forces and development organisations, as well as on the activities and strategies of their supporters. She has written a blog about the issue here. Both Sara de Jong and Nazir Ayeen have evidence to the select committe, which you can read here and here.
Please note that this episode was recorded before the Commons report had been published.
No one will have missed the royal wedding between American actress Meghan Markle and Prince Harry happening this week. Markle has moved to the UK is expected to become known as the Duchess of Sussex after the wedding. But not all family migration procedures are quite so joyful and straightforward. In a new research paper, Dr Marcia Vera Espinoza and Dr Joe Turner, both at the Department of Politics at the University of Sheffield, investigate the intimacy of the family migration visa application in the UK. They both have personal experience of the process, which is also part of the research. The disruption, fear and anxiety they describe is quite far from a fairy tale royal wedding.
You can read more about Joe Turner’s work on family migration here and here, and more about Marcia Vera Espinoza’s work on migration here. There is also some other work discussed in this episode and recommended by the guests: on the Windrush generation; on marriage migration to the UK and here; on intersectionality, whiteness and citizenship; and the book Imperial Leather.
Migration policy-makers tend to portray the migrant smuggler as their main enemy. Not only do they help facilitate irregular migration, but they are also seen as exploitative of the people they are helping. But who are migrant smugglers and what do they do? To help answer these questions, I talked to Dr Gabriella Sanchez, Research Fellow at the Migration Policy Centre at the European University Institute. Gabriella Sanchez is an expert on migrant smuggling, but also on the US-Mexico border, so this episode also covers details of that particular border area. Gabriella Sanchez is the author of Human Smuggling and Border Crossings and several journal articles that you find for example here, here and here. The special issue mentioned in the episode is here.
When we talk, write and research about migration, do we see like a nation? Would we approach issues differently, and ask different questions, if instead we saw like a migrant? In his new book Toward a Cosmopolitan Ethics of Mobility; The Migrant’s-Eye View of the World, Alex Sager, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Portland State University, claims that much research in migration is biased by methodological nationalism. If we could rid ourselves of methodological nationalism, perhaps we would be less focused, for example, on people moving between states and more focused on mobility as such. In this episode, Alex Sager discusses what methodological nationalism is and its consequences. He has also written about methodological nationalism here and recently edited the book The Ethics and Politics of Immigration: Core Issues and Emerging Trends.
When we talk about migration, we assume the existence of borders. But what are borders? And should there be any? This is the topic of this episode with Bridget Anderson, Professor of Migration, Mobilities and Citizenship at the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies at the University of Bristol. Bridget Anderson is well-known for her defence of No Borders, you can watch her TED talk here, as well as her 2013 book Us and Them? The Dangerous Politics of Immigration Control.
In September 2015, the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, King Abdullah of Jordan and David Cameron, then UK Prime Minister, met to discuss the so called Compact Model, to create jobs for refugees in Jordan. The Jordan Compact was agreed in early 2016 and a similar, but smaller scale Lebanon Compact followed.
Was the Compact Model the win-win solution everyone has been waiting for? In this episode I talk to journalists Daniel Howden and Charlotte Alfred at Refugees Deeply. They have investigated the impact of the Compact Models in Jordan and Lebanon and found that what was meant to work in certain ways on paper, turned out quite differently in practice. Read the full report here, a shorter version here and a further discussion here.