Princeton University Library Catalog
- Bari, Wardah [Browse]
- Senior thesis
- Danspeckgruber, Wolfgang [Browse]
- Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs [Browse]
- Class year:
- 124 pages
- Summary note:
- Based on existing historical precedents and legal frameworks on the subject of
refugees, it is astounding to see so much controversy over the topic of refugees. With the
influx of refugees arriving in Europe, increasing especially in the past year, many have failed
to adequately respond and provide resources for refugees and individuals seeking asylum.
Given the historical precedents and failed moral obligations towards refugees over the past
century I ask, why has the international community failed to create a coordinated response
to the current refugee crisis?
In this thesis, I define responsibilities of states towards refugees and how this
responsibility should be distributed, arguing that wealthier nations hold a proportionately
higher responsibility to support countries hosting the most number of refugees, as well as to
take in refugees into their own countries. Based on existing literature, there is convincing
evidence we do have a duty to admit and protect refugees who are failed by their own
governments; the contemporary case of refugees fleeing from Syrian and other conflicts in
the Middle East is especially relevant to this discussion. I put the current refugee crisis in
context using ethical considerations based on existing academic literature with regards to the
responsibility of states and allocation of the duty to admit refugees.
While the international community has attempted to respond effectively, I find there
is a profound lack of coordination amongst the governments, organizations, and individuals
and groups working on the grassroots level through civil society and personal action.
Current European policies are contradictory to the nature and spirit of the 1951 UN
Convention on Refugees, which sets the minimum threshold of the duty to admit refugees –
especially those fleeing from persecution. By looking at the European example of Austria, I
examine government policies and compare them to the response by civil society actors and
NGOs. I find that many government policies towards refugees are implemented to deter
refugees from entering, by not providing adequate housing, education and opportunities
while seeking asylum. This lack of resources and mistreatment of many refugees, individuals
who have suffered traumatic experiences and many of whom have severe mental health
conditions, require urgent attention and must be treated with respect and dignity. I conclude
this thesis by exploring equitable approaches to the refugee crisis by the global community.
Particularly, I suggest that in order to have an effective response to number of refugees
within Europe and other communities, there must be clear coordination amongst
governments, international organizations, and civil society. If the problem in Syria and the
Middle East is unable to be resolved in the immediate future, we must prepare to respond to
find alternative solutions to create easy, safe, and legal routes for asylum seekers to find
safety and well-being.