Ideas from the Trenches - Refuge

The sense of a moral duty to give refuge to a stranger in need resonates across human cultures and deep into our history. However, as PhD students Kiran Banerjee and Craig Damian Smith argue, the values of the nation state can clash with our profound moral beliefs, creating big problems when we try to apply and honour international human rights. To get beyond this clash, they propose a radical re-thinking of the institutions that shape how nations respond to the voices of refugees.
Ibrahim is a Syrian refugee, currently based in Beirut, unsure of his next move. He's single and 30 years old -- making it near impossible for him to claim refugee status in Canada. He fled his home city of Raqqa 4 years ago, just as ISIS was turning it into its headquarters. We're only using his first name as he still has immediate family in Raqqa. 1:34
Listen to the full episode54:00

The sense of a moral duty to give refuge to a stranger in need resonates across human cultures and deep into our history. However, as PhD students Kiran Banerjee and Craig Damian Smith argue, the values of the nation state can clash with our profound moral beliefs, creating big problems when we try to apply and honour international human rights. To get beyond this clash, they propose a radical re-thinking of the institutions that shape how nations respond to the voices of refugees.

**Note: this episode originally broadcast in November 2015. Since then Kiran Banerjee completed his PhD thesis and is currently doing his post-doctorate at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Craig Damian Smith is wrapping up his PhD. In 2016 he helped found Together Project -- an organization that matches Canadians with government-assisted refugees to help foster refugee integration.
 

"Nation states are both one of the main causes of forced migrations, but also one of the reasons why they are so hard to resolve." - University of Toronto PhD candidate Kiran Banerjee

"To be outside of that framework of having rights as a citizen in a state means to be outside of political community in a very real sense." - University of Toronto PhD candidate Craig Damian Smith

 

Participants in the program:

  • Mary Jo Leddy -- Founder and Director of Romero House . Romero House has provided temporary housing to more than 1,500 refugees.
     
  • Alexander Betts  -- Director of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford. He recently co-authored an article in Foreign Affairs magazine called Help Refugees Help Themselves: Let Displaced Syrians Join the Labour Market.
     
  • Joseph Carens -- Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto. His most recent book is The Ethics of Immigration. 

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