Ideas

Give Us Your Tired - The Munk Debate on the Global Refugee Crisis

The global refugee crisis is the geopolitical debate of today. In the latest Munk Debate, Human Rights Commissioner Louise Arbour and historian Simon Schama argue in favour of the resolution "Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." While Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party and author Mark Steyn argue against.
A man holds his daughter sitting on the shoulders of an older sibling while holding signs reading 'No food' as they wait with other refugees from Syria to cross the Greek-Macedonian border near the town of Gevgelija on February 27, 2016. ( ROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

The global refugee crisis is the geopolitical debate of today. In the latest Munk Debate, Human Rights Commissioner Louise Arbour and historian Simon Schama argue in favour of the resolution "Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."  While Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party and author Mark Steyn argue against.
 

HIGHLIGHT CLIP:
Simon Schama argues that the real key to balancing public safety with accepting waves of refugees is education, not security and counter-intelligence 1:01



 
It's one of the most iconic inscriptions in the world: the words on the base of the Statue of Liberty:

"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Lady Liberty may welcome the 'huddled masses,' but not everyone, or everywhere does. It's been called the worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two: an estimated 4.5 milllion people fleeing Syria as refugees, plus countless others escaping other failed states in the Middle East and northern Africa.


How should prosperous societies respond to suffering on such a mass scale, particularly when there are genuine concerns about security risks?  

The global refugee crisis was the starting point for a Munk Debate held in Toronto in early April. 

The Debaters
From the Munk Debate on the Global Refugee Crisis. On the pro side: Louise Arbour & Simon Schama. On the con side: Mark Steyn & Nigel Farage. (The Munk Debates)


For the resolution:

  • The Honourable Louise Arbour, member of the Supreme Court of Canada from 1999 to 2004, former Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as CEO of the International Crisis Group 2009-2014. 
     
  • Simon Schama teaches history and art history at Columbia University in New York, and has written seventeen books, including The Story of the Jews.  He has also written and presented dozens of TV documentaries for BBC, PBS, and The History Channel.


Against the resolution:

  • Mark Steyn, author, writer, journalist, and conservative political commentator. He has written five books, including America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It. His commentaries appear in the National Post, the Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic. 
     
  • Nigel Farage, the leader and a founding member of the UK Independence Party (UKIP). In the 2015 UK general election, the party came in third with 13% of the popular vote. Mr. Farage was recently named "Briton of the Year" by The Times and ranked first in the Daily Telegraph's Top 100 most influential right-wing politicians.

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