Modern Refugees as Challengers of Nation-State Sovereignty. From the Historical to the Contemporary Leipziger
Gilad Ben-Nun (Leipzig U) and Frank Caestecker (Ghent U), eds.
|Publication Date||September 2017|
|Publisher||Leipziger Universitätsverlag (Germany)|
|Issue||Comparativ 27, Vol. 1|
The image of refugees cramming at an armed border post of a neighbouring country, pleading entry so as to avoid being sent back to the horrors engulfing their place of origin, is profoundly associated with the twentieth century. The modern consolidation of national borders, coupled with states’ ability to unabatingly exercise sovereign control over who enters them, has turned border posts the world over, whether on land or at the parting of territorial waters, into flashpoints of the global refugee crisis. Elapsing a century since the 1915 Armenian exile, this volume explores the challenge posed by refugees to sovereign nation states, as they are faced with the dilemma of inhumanely refusing their entry thus rendering themselves morally-repulsive, or allowing their entrance thus ipso facto qualifying their own sovereignty.
The first two contributions of this volume explore the clash between refugees and nation state sovereignty, during the naissance of international space under the establishment of the League of Nations – a period in which the parallel development of modern international law took place.
In her chapter on Russian refugees, Elizabeth White explores the origins of our current international refugee regime, through a detailed examination of the actions of the League of Nation’s first High Commissioner for Refugees – Fridtjof Nansen on their behalf.
In his contribution concerning the Jewish and political refugees who fled the Third Reich, Frank Caestecker explores how states reacted to an ongoing refugee crisis. In contrast to the Russian refugee crisis where states agreed to international obligations after the refugee crisis, in the case of the Reich’s refugees, policy makers intervened before and during this crisis.
The adoption of the 1951 Convention represents a watershed moment in the history of refugee law, being the first instrument that truly universalized the rights of refugees versus nation states. These rights were considerably strengthened with the adoption of the non-refoulement principle, which entailed restrictions over border policy. In his contribution, Gilad Ben-Nun substantiates the argument that the drafters of the 1951 Refugee Convention understood the implications of their decision to endorse the non refoulement principle in its most stringent prohibitive form, as it imposed upon states the negative duty of not returning refugees back into the hands of their tormentors “in any manner whatsoever”.
In his contribution, Irial Glynn comparatively examines the fundamentally-different responses of Italy and Australia to the incoming influx of boat-fairing refugees towards their shores in recent decades.
- Modern Refugees as Challengers of Nation-State Sovereignty: From the Historical to the Contemporary (Gilad Ben-Nun & Frank Caestecke): 7–38.
- Non-Refoulement as a Qualifier of Nation-State Sovereignty: The Case of Mass Population Flows (Gilad Ben-Nun): 60–77.
Gilad Ben-Nun (Leipzig U, Germany)
Gilad Ben-Nun is a diplomatic historian working the history of International Law from the late 1880s until the present, and a former UN official. His studies focus upon the tensions between the universalist strata which has underpinned the workings of the international community since The Hague Conventions of 1899, and the parallel strata Real Politique constraints which have also contributed their share in the making of the International law instruments such as the Universal declaration of Human Rights, The Genocide Convention, the 1951 Refugee convention, and the 1954 Convention on Statelessness. He holds a PhD from the university of Leipzig (2015) with undergraduate degrees (MA, BA) from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Between September 2016 and August 2018 Gilad will take up an EU-funded Marie Curie Individual Fellowship at the Law Faculty of the University of Verona, writing a full drafting history of the 4th Geneva Convention for the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict (Signed 12th Aug. 1949). Gilad will be returning to the Centre for Area Studies and to his teaching activities at the University of Leipzig in the winter term of 2018/19, upon completion of his Marie Curie grant.
Prof. Dr. Frank Caestecker (Ghent U, Belgium)
Frank Caestecker is professor at the department of general economics at the Ghent University. His research topics include Alien policy and international migration in 19th and 20th century Western Europe, European political and social history, immigration policy, labor migration, and the globalization or internationalization of the European economy from 1880 to 1980.