Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Does Responsibility to Protect Extend to Syrian Refugees?

By Emrah Keskin
Twitter: @k13e

Since its initial formulation in 2001, the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine, adopted by the UN in 2005, has been a source of constant popular and academic debate. Opinions on R2P range from a noble humanitarian initiative that represents the first significant step to a solidarist vision of the international realm to a tool of the powerful states for legitimizing their self-serving expeditions or a well meaning but ultimately hallow liberal concept.
Over the past five years R2P’s fortunes in becoming a well-established norm of the international society rose and fell sharply, from its implementation in Libyan crisis in 2011 to its ineffectiveness in the face of the suffering in Syria. Here I will consider whether the Syrian case spells the doom of R2P and confirm the worst fears of the doctrine’s skeptics or whether R2P still has a contribution to make. I will argue the latter, and suggest that the moral principles that underlie R2P can and should be invoked to provide care for Syrian refugees.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Hope and Hopelessness: Unraveling the Connections Between Refugees and Terrorism

By Dr. John McCoy

Originally published in the Edmonton Journal, December 18, 2015.

Writing about terrorism and refugees is difficult. From a personal and normative standpoint and, given my own liberal internationalist inclinations and commitment to multiculturalism, humanitarianism and multilateralism, it is a challenging subject. But in light of the level of controversy, fear and unabashed racism that surrounds the current debate over the admission of Syrian refugees to Canada and other western states it is crucial that academics engage with these fears from a scholarly perspective. I believe that empirical, social-scientific study and a historicist’s perspective is supportive of my own normative biases and the case for “solving” the refugee crisis.

First the controversial endeavors: defining terrorism and exploring the connections between waves of political violence and a flood of refugees.  Here, I define terrorism as a particular method or form of political violence – one that explicitly seeks to have a psychological impact (primarily fear inducement) and/or send a message beyond the immediate target of a terrorist act. This definition draws on the work of Anthony Richards, it is “actor neutral” allowing for the inclusion of state and non-state actors, and it moves beyond the “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” cliché by including violence that we may sometimes approve of (e.g. in pursuit of a “just cause”).[1] This is not a definition that will satisfy everyone – that is not achievable. But it does allow us to view terrorism as something that is conceptually distinct.