Kieran’s paper raised the pressing concern with the states’ moral responsibility for the deaths of migrants trying to cross borders. In particular, it asked whether the receiving states have a special duty to rescue migrants at borders, a duty that goes beyond the more general reasons to assist people in need. In answering this question, the paper contextualized the issue of border crossing and rescue in terms of the overall migration regime and immigration policies – emphasizing the fact that crossing borders is dangerous because “states deny certain people entry and then use guards and razor wire to keep them out.” It also drew attention to the fact that dangerous migration is mostly forced migration, highlighting the broader structures and processes of political, economic and social injustice and exploitation. Thereby, it blocked arguments by which receiving states might seek to “deflect responsibility for dangerous migration” by blaming migrants themselves. Instead, the paper pursued two lines of argument to explain why states bear moral, and not merely causal responsibility, for dangerous migration. First, states are morally responsible for rescuing migrants if they violate a duty to admit migrants in need. Second, the states’ restrictions on migration should not be understood as “passively allowing the migrants to suffer the consequences,” but more like actively harming.
The subsequent discussion addressed the moral implications of the paper’s argument, among others the question of the continued legitimacy of the state and of legal arrangements that are persistently used to subvert the states’ moral duties. Comments also raised the question of the prioritization of duties, placing the moral duty to assist migrants in relation to states’ duties with regards to climate change and other global challenges. Is the process of attributing moral responsibility a zero-sum game or can different duties be seen as coextensive to each other? In addition, the paper stirred an engaging conversation on the relations between the duty to rescue and the duty to admit, showing it might be difficult to distinguish where the first one ends and the other begins. Finally, what is the significance of viewing the harms of dangerous migration as conditioned by the systemic wrong of the migration regime? In this respect, the discussion about the moral duty of border rescue also raised the need for broader systemic transformation that would address the structures and policies that systematically produce dangerous migration.
We are delighted to have invited Professor Henry Shue from Oxford University as the presenter for PTRG yesterday. In the presented paper, Professor Shue critically reflects upon his earlier argument: that it is important to make a distinction between ‘subsistence emissions’ and ‘luxury emissions’, and that this distinction should be incorporated into climate policy intended to achieve mitigation. ‘Subsistence emissions’ are emissions necessary for securing the basic right to subsistence, whereas ‘luxury emissions’ are those that exceed a minimally adequate level of emission. According to Professor Shue, it is morally unacceptable to ask the poor to sacrifice subsistence emissions so that the affluent can maintain their luxury emissions. Continue reading →
PTRG seminar: Can Benign Leverage Be Relied On to End Global Poverty? 9 November 2016
(Source: Radio Okapi, flickr, CC BY 2.0)
Should people maximize the good they can do by earning much money as they can, so they can donate as much as they can to charitable programs? This is the argument of Effective Altruism. This view seems perfectly right to us, but Professor Tim Hayward holds the opposite view. The theme of his paper Can Benign Leverage be Relied on to End Global Poverty is to challenge benign leverage, the assumption of Effective Altruism and to show that it is a problematic solution to overcoming global poverty.
Those of us who care about global justice and climate justice need to take human population growth seriously. Or so I argued in the first instalment of this two-part blog. On current population forecasts, our grandchildren or great-grandchildren might have to decide between basic rights for their own generation and protecting future generations from climate change. We owe it to them not to bequeath this tragic choice. However, it is also morally crucial to address population in the context of concerted efforts to tackle both global injustice and climate change, not as a standalone problem.
In “Hunger’s Unwitting Executioners”, Elizabeth Ashford argues that the persistence of severe poverty should be understood as a structural human rights violation, and that defending this thesis does not require defending the more contentious claims of theorists such as Thomas Pogge. On her analysis, the persistence of severe poverty is a predictable, avoidable, and unjustifiable infliction of severe harm, caused by ongoing patterns of behaviour at a global level. Crucially, she does not target responsibility exclusively on existing coercive social institutions, but rather identifies a ‘shared duty to prevent structural human rights violations’ that is held by individuals born in affluent countries, wherein each is partially responsible for its fulfilment. This duty can be discharged by taking action for structural reform. Continue reading →
Every single country in the world has a policy of naturalisation. This means that once an immigrant who is not a citizen of their country of residence fulfils certain criteria, they can obtain citizenship of their country of residence. In some cases, naturalisation is fairly straightforward, particularly in South American countries. Here, it sometimes only takes a few years of permanent residence in order to qualify for citizenship. In other countries, naturalisation is very difficult. In Italy, a person is required to have had at least ten years of continuous permanent residence in order to be eligible for naturalisation. However, there is currently no country on the planet that does not have a policy of naturalisation, even if some countries are extremely strict in granting citizenship to non-citizens. With increasing levels of international migration flows, naturalisation is becoming an important issue for more and more people. Continue reading →
Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Photo: Unknown – Franklin D Roosevelt Library website
Rowan Cruft’s paper “The Individualism of Human Rights” explores the thesis that human rights are justified by what they do for individuals, rather than for collectives like ‘humankind’ or ideals like ‘beauty’. This means that a human right is always grounded in a feature of the individual right-holder (such as an interest, need, freedom, or capability). Rowan offers ‘the right to political participation’ as an example – the importance of your freedom of political participation is enough to ground the right, aside from any wider benefits of political participation to society or political institutions. Continue reading →
This week’s PTRG saw Professor Tim Hayward present his paper ‘A Global Right of Water’. In the paper, Tim answered several important questions such as: whether a right regarding safe and clean water is a ‘basic right’ without which no other right can be enjoyed; who has what responsibility to fulfil the material demands that this right entails; whether the traditional paradigm of thinking is appropriate to address real ecological challenges of a changing world; what political institution would be needed to realise everyone’s secure access to safe and clean water. Continue reading →
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