Dr Sarah Fine, Lecturer in Philosophy, King's College London.
Migration is a subject which generates intense debate and disagreement. For example, there is a great deal of debate about whether or not we ought to recognise a human right to international freedom of movement, and over the definition of refugees. Strikingly, however, there is no serious disagreement about whether or not we ought to recognise a human right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution. That human right is usually just taken as a given. Yet despite widespread consensus on this point, it is clear that we urgently need to reconsider how to ‘make good’ on our commitments to refugees. With that urgent demand in mind, I start from the solid point of agreement around the human right to seek and enjoy asylum. I consider how and why this consensus has emerged. Then I move onto the deep disagreements about the definition of refugees, and whether we should recognise a human right to international freedom of movement. I argue that the ongoing disagreement about the definition of refugees is one of the factors contributing to the practical and theoretical predicament in which we find ourselves. I draw on the basic agreement about asylum and on the disagreements around the definition of refugees to try to find common ground on the contentious issue of whether we ought to recognise a human right to international freedom of movement. I develop a novel, instrumental argument in defence of a human right to international freedom of movement: it is instrumental for the proper protection of the human right to seek and enjoy asylum.
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