The refugee as citizen : the possibility of political membership in a cosmopolitan world

Cilliers, Judy-Ann (2014-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The aim of this thesis is to determine what responsibilities democratic states have toward refugees. This problem is stated within the broader framework of the tension inherent in all democratic states: on the one hand, the sovereign right of a state over its territory and, on the other hand, the cosmopolitan or universal human rights norms upon which the state‟s constitution is founded. I argue that this tension is brought to the fore when refugees cross borders and enter into democratic territories, asking for protection and claiming their human rights. The sheer magnitude of the refugee crisis makes this an issue every state should address. My answer to the question of state responsibility is worked out in four phases. Firstly, I give a conceptual clarification of refugeehood, sovereignty, and cosmopolitanism. I show that neither absolute sovereignty (which implies closed borders) nor extreme cosmopolitanism (which implies no borders) is desirable. Secondly, I draw on Immanuel Kant‟s cosmopolitan theory as a possible solution. Kant proposes a world-federation of states in which right is realised on the civic, international, and cosmopolitan level. Kant also insists that every individual has the right to hospitality – a right which foreign states should recognise. Thirdly, I examine three prominent theories which could offer us a way to address the refugee crisis. I argue that the first two – multiculturalism and John Rawls‟ „law of peoples‟ – are not adequate responses to the refugee crisis, but that the third – Seyla Benhabib‟s cosmopolitan federalism – is more promising. Hospitality is the first responsibility states have toward refugees, and Benhabib proposes that it be institutionalised by (i) forming a federation of states founded on cosmopolitan principles, (ii) revising membership norms through the political process of democratic iterations, and (iii) extending some form of political membership to the state to refugees. Lastly, I justify the claim that political membership should be extended by referring to Hannah Arendt‟s argument that the ability to speak and act publicly is part of what it means to be human. If we deny refugees this ability, or if we deny them access to political processes, we deny their humanity. Benhabib proposes institutional measures to ensure that this does not happen, including allowing for political membership on sub-national, national, and supranational levels. Ultimately, I argue that democratic states have the responsibility to (i) allow entry to refugees, (ii) give refugees legal status and offer protection, and (ii) extend political membership to them on some level.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie tesis is om te bepaal wat die verantwoordelikhede van demokratiese state teenoor vlugtelinge is. Ek plaas hierdie probleem binne die breër raamwerk van die onderliggende spanning in demokratiese state: die soewereine reg van ‟n staat oor sy grondgebied, aan die een kant, en die kosmopolitiese of universele menseregte-norme waarop die staat se grondwet berus, aan die ander kant. Ek argumenteer dat hierdie spanning na vore gebring word wanneer vlugtelinge, op soek na beskerming, grense oorsteek, demokratiese state binnetree en aanspraak maak op hulle regte. Ek bespreek die vraagstuk in vier stappe. Eerstens verduidelik ek die begrippe van vlugtelingskap, soewereiniteit en kosmopolitisme. Ek toon aan dat nóg absolute soewereiniteit (wat geslote grense impliseer), nóg ekstreme kosmopolitisme (wat geen grense impliseer) ‟n wenslike ideaal is. Tweedens kyk ek na Immanuel Kant se kosmopolitiese teorie vir ‟n moontlike oplossing. Kant stel voor dat state saamkom in ‟n wêreld-federasie, om sodoende reg te laat geskied op die plaaslike, internasionale, en kosmopolitiese vlak. Kant dring ook aan daarop dat elke individu die reg tot gasvryheid besit, ‟n reg wat ook deur ander state buiten die individu se staat van herkoms erken behoort te word. Derdens ondersoek ek drie prominente teorieë wat moontlike oplossings bied vir die vlugteling-krisis. Ek argumenteer dat die eerste twee – multikulturalisme en John Rawls se „law of peoples‟ – nie voldoende is om die vlugteling-krisis die hoof te bied nie. Die derde teorie, Seyla Benhabib se kosmopolitiese federalisme, blyk meer belowend te wees. Benhabib stel voor dat die staat se verantwoordelikheid om gasvryheid te toon geïnstitusionaliseer kan word deur (i)‟n federasie van state gegrond op kosmopolitiese beginsels te vorm, (ii) lidmaatskap-norme te hersien deur ‟n politieke proses genaamd demokratiese iterasie, en (iii) politieke lidmaatskap van een of ander aard aan vlugtelinge toe te ken. Laastens regverdig ek die aanspraak op lidmaatskap. Ek verwys na Hannah Arendt se argument dat die vermoë om in die publieke sfeer te praat en dade te kan uitvoer, deel uitmaak van wat dit beteken om ‟n mens te wees. As ons verhoed dat vlugtelinge hierdie twee vermoëns kan uitleef, ontken ons hulle menslikheid. Benhabib stel sekere institutionele maatreëls voor om dit te voorkom. Dit sluit politieke lidmaatskap op ‟n sub-nasionale, nasionale, en supra-nasionale vlak in. Uiteindelik argumenteer ek dat demokratiese state se verantwoordelikhede teenoor vlugtelinge uit die volgende bestaan: (i) toegang tot hierdie state se grondgebied, (ii) wetlike status en beskerming, en (iii) politieke lidmaatskap op een of ander vlak.

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