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Part I International Refugee Law— Reflections on the Scholarly Field, Ch.6 The Ethics of International Refugee Protection

Seyla Benhabib, Nishin Nathwani

From: The Oxford Handbook of International Refugee Law

Edited By: Cathryn Costello, Michelle Foster, Jane McAdam

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 30 November 2023

The ethics of international refugee protection reflect the dual normative principles of state sovereignty and recognition of refugees’ international human rights which characterize the contemporary refugee regime since the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. This contribution identifies three major positions, each of which acknowledges these dual foundations while seeking to balance, synthesize, or transcend them. These positions are: liberal nationalism, which prioritizes state sovereignty and the rights of bounded political communities to protect their own culture and territory; liberal internationalism, which recognizes that state sovereignty is embedded in a system of international duties and prerogatives; and, cosmopolitanism, which seeks to transcend ‘ontology of containment’ characterizing both positions by acknowledging the radical interdependence of peoples and the fluidity of their movement across boundaries. The cosmopolitan position is further divided into agency-centric views, power-centric views, and the post-colonial perspective. The article concludes by defending jurisgenerativity and democratic iterations as political processes through which law’s normative promise and its imbrication in systems of power and domination can be brought to light and resignified to reflect the dignity and subjectivity of refugees and not merely their protection.

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