Refugees' and Human Rights
Part of the agreement was for turkey and the European Union to co-operate as they attempt to return refugees and immigrants to their countries of origin. The member states of the union and turkey were to allow for smooth transit of individuals as they return to their countries of origin2. The agreement also espoused processes and procedures between the EU and Turkey on how to readmit migrants. This was a violation of the convention of refugee rights because it states clearly that refugees have the right to stay in the country they enter and be accorded protection by the receiving state. The problem with this agreement is that it puts people’s lives in danger. This is a violation of human rights and refugee rights that violates the Convention on human rights raising the question about the universality of human rights.
Brief Background on Refugee Rights The situation EU and Turkey agreement raises questions as to the importance of international conventions and the recognition of human rights. The Convention on Refugee Rights of 1951 is an important document that forms part of this discussion. The 1951 refugee convention is grounded on the Article 14 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights7. The article in question acknowledges the rights of displaced persons to seek asylum in other countries. Additionally, the convention principles also hold that the convention should be applied without discrimination in terms of sex, age, sexuality and disability among others. These principles that established the international convention of 1951, especially non-discrimination, form the basis of the current discussion of refugee rights and discrimination in Europe.
Among other things the paper will look at why human rights are different from refugee/migrants rights yet they are all human. Additionally, the compilation will also investigate why there is a prevalence of violence against women refugees. In the interrogation of the differences between human rights and migrants/refugee rights, it is important to focus on the fundamental philosophies that have led to the reaction by several European countries in regard to hosting migrants on their soils. Nationalism, Culture, and Human Rights The majority of European nations at the height of the refugee crisis violated the international convention on many counts. For instance the Article 3 of the convention prohibits the discrimination of employee based on any grounds such as race, religion or country of origin13.
Many of the refugees were from Muslim majority states and were, therefore Muslims. In contrast, Many European nations are largely Christian. Therefore, discrimination of the refugees can be said to be due to their religion which is against Article 3 of the International Convention of Refugee Rights14. According to Riker, liberal nationalism is an unthinkable devotion to a person’s country and traditions. In the recent past, Europe has seen rise nationalism18. This has served to pose a threat to the refugees whose rights have in turn been disregarded. In Austria, nationalism has taken center stage in politics with politicians arguing that the influx of refugees into the country especially from Muslim areas is a threat to the Austrian Christian traditions. This poses a threat to refugees from Muslim countries.
In fact, nationalists in those countries call for tighter immigration policies, closing of borders and ousting of people who are not natives in those countries. An observer can only claim that human rights are only common to people from the western culture while people from other cultures are outsiders because they have been treated as so in many democratic states. In his theory on libertarianism Hassoun raises a valid point on how autonomy arises or regarding how people gain human rights22. He argues that where people are so poor to the extent of not being able to secure food and other basic stuffs such as shelter, the rights of such people are abused. This is the case with refugees in Europe.
Their life is put in danger because they may be forced to go back to their home countries which are war-torn. This is a violation of the international Convention on refugee rights. The denial of human rights to refugees alludes to the notion that Human Rights are a preserve of the Western culture. Denying human rights and refugee rights to refugees is defeatist to democratic principles of equity because democracy is built on principles of freedom, which are based on the notion that all people are equal. If these principles were to be applied, national liberalism lacks credence because it cultivates nationality, which localizes human rights to the citizens and denies them to refugees or aliens. This also explains why there is an increase in nationalism in Europe.
Exdell further uses Walzer’s construct of nationality, which goes beyond the constructs of national liberalism31. In the said construct, nation states find ways to exclude people based on race and ethnicity. Away from the refugees’ issue, Exdell seems to touch on serious issues. Using Walzer’s theory as espoused by Exdell, it is easy to see why colonized people were sidelined and treated as lesser humans32. This means that refugees are also responsible for exercising their rights in the states where they seek asylum and protection. However, this argument is flawed considering that their rights are curtailed and borders closed to limit their movement. In the context of group rights, the issue becomes complicated by the fact that refugees do not constitute a homogenous group because of the diversity in issues such national origin, race, ethnicity, religion among others.
When speak of refugees, we are talking about refugee as a group hence group rights. Donnelly postulates that the problem of group rights may be easier when the group is small in size37. Most of the people going to Europe through Turkey are genuine refugees escaping war from their home countries. Denying them entry or asylum on the ground that they are not genuine asylum seekers is a violation of the convention on refugee rights, which confers the right to enter any country of choice as a refugee and to be protected and accorded the rights enjoyed by other citizens and aliens in that country40. Turkey, by signing the aforementioned agreement, is also being nationalistic in nature. This is because like the European Union, Turkey is looking out for its interests such as accommodation into the EU, friendly immigration policy for its citizens among other benefits.
The situation shows that human rights are not universal and perhaps the applicability of human rights should be viewed with respect to nationality. Conclusion The control of refugee rights by the countries hosting the refugees is an indication that human rights are not universal. This follows that refugee rights as contained in the International Convention on Refugees Rights borrows heavily from the principles guiding human rights such as human dignity and equality. Nevertheless, it paramount to note that human rights are a western constructs originating from the western culture and Christianity teachings. Consequentially, the universality of human rights cannot be established. This explains why nationalists in Europe believe that the borders should be closed to refugees and other outsider. Universal human rights in theory and practice.
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