Europe and the refugee crisis: perspectives from BISA

This episode was recorded at the British International Studies Association‘s Annual Conference in Edinburgh. We hear short versions of three research papers presented on the refugee crisis, by Dr James Souter, the University of Leeds, Dr Kelly Staples, The University of Leicester, and Dr Simon McMahon, Coventry University. Questions raised include whether accepting refugees is part of being a good international citizens, if the EU can really be held responsible for the refugee crisis and what the role of informal reception is in managing migration in Italy.

If a state refuses to recognise its reparative obligations to refugees then its inevitably going to be other states, that are often not responsible for producing those refugees, that are going to end up protecting them. That could be a kind of inter-state injustice.

James Souter

We first hear from James Souter and his paper ‘Good international citizenship and the responsibility to protect refugees‘. James argues that for states to act like good international citizens, they should admit refugees when they can’t protect them by intervening in a conflict. This argument led to a discussion of whether or not Turkey is a good international citizen, since it is doing more than many other European countries, yet offers poor protection for those it admits.

The EU as an institution does not have the authority which it requires to enact the kind of decisions that are needed.

Kelly Staples

Next, Kelly Staples summarises her paper ‘Contingent cosmopolitanism and the refugee crisis’, in which she analyses whether the EU as an institution has the kind of authority and ability to make decisions that makes it responsible for asylum policy. Her answer is no and we should look at member states for responsibility for asylum policy in Europe.

The incessant need to control and contain people doesn’t align necessarily with migrants’ objectives and aspirations.

Simon McMahon

Simon McMahon, lastly, presented his paper ‘Europe’s migration crisis and its responses: examining the interplay between formal and informal recepti0on dynamics’, which is based on two research projects where several hundred migrants who have made the journey across the Mediterranean have been interviewed. Simon’s paper focuses on the reception of migrants in Italy and he shows how informal networks of previous migrants and civil society are deeply interwoven with the formal channels of migration reception in Italy.

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