Political philosophy and questions of migration

My research interests lie in political philosophy and questions to do with what ought to be considered the ground of political communities in the context of a globalised world.

This interest developed out of my research into international refugee protection mechanisms and their inadequacy in ensuring that the world’s refugees are protected by signatory states to the 1951 Convention for the Protection of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.

As a result of my research, I concluded that to ensure adequate protection, states must demonstrate a greater commitment to interstate cooperation in order to more evenly distribute asylum seeker claims between them. Wealthy states, such as Australia, must also show a renewed commitment to refugee protection by increasing the number of refugees they permanently resettle and by immediately abandoning off-shore detention policies, which criminalise refugees who have a right to protection under existing customs of international law.

I tentatively endorsed the establishment of an international refugee quota mechanism but rejected the establishment of a market in such quotas on the grounds that it would unlikely lead to greater protection of refugees given the susceptibility of such a system to corruption. Existing evidence suggests that a market in refugee quotas could also leave many of the world’s refugees in a permanent state of geographical limbo as states bartered over the sale of their quota allocations, even though it might at least temporarily incentivise states to contribute funds and resources to refugee protection.

Consequently, refugee protection mechanisms are likely to be best strengthened by revising the 1951 Refugee Convention to more adequately reflect contemporary times and the reasons that force many of the world’s refugees to flee.

At the same time, more research is needed into mechanisms that support the temporary protection of refugees in states nearby to conflict zones and in states that cannot adequately ensure that the basic rights of their people are being upheld. In a world stratified by disproportionate levels of wealth and development, it is imperative that well-resourced states invest in mechanisms that support community building in areas struggling with poverty, famine, and the by-products of civil conflict and which, invariably, host many of the world’s refugees.

In future research projects, I intend to probe the question of whether open borders policies are philosophically justified. Thinking through the consequences of such an approach to migration policy, I hope to shed light on how we ought to think about the notion of political community in the context of democracy and global interconnectedness.