Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Immigration Article of the Day: Competing for Refugees: A Debt-Based Solution to a Humanitarian Crisis by Joseph Blocher and G. Mitu Gulati



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Competing for Refugees: A Debt-Based Solution to a Humanitarian Crisis by Joseph Blocher (Duke University - School of Law) and  G. Mitu Gulati (Duke University School of Law), October 15, 2015

Abstract: The global refugee crisis is perhaps worse today than it has been since the development of international refugee law in the wake of World War II, and existing rules and structures are increasingly unable to address it. People fleeing persecution tend to seek refuge in the (typically poor) countries nearest to them, or, if they are able, in the (typically rich) countries that present them with the best future prospects. But these countries often claim that the resulting legal burdens are unbearable or unfair, and so they take steps — sometimes drastic ones — to keep refugees from landing on their shores and thereby gaining legal rights. Proposals have been made over the years for the equitable sharing of refugees among potential refugee-hosting nations, but these have not come to fruition.

We ask whether it is possible to improve the system by giving refugees a realizable legal asset, giving host nations increased incentive to accept them, and giving countries of origin the bill for the costs of their persecution. One way to achieve this would be to recognize that persecuted refugee groups have a financial claim against their countries of origin, and that this claim can be traded to host nations in exchange for acceptance. Although modifications to the international apparatus would be necessary, the basis for this proposal already exists in international law. While not displacing existing legal rules and obligations, this mechanism would give bad countries another reason not to create refugees, and good countries more incentive to welcome them.


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