Does a state's right to control borders justify harming refugees?

Bradley Hillier-Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Certain states in the Global North have responded to refugees seeking safety on their territories through harmful practices of border violence, detention, encampment and containment that serve to prevent and deter refugee arrivals. These practices are ostensibly justified through an appeal to a right to control borders. This paper therefore assesses whether these harmful practices can indeed be morally justified by a state’s right to control borders. It analyses whether Christopher Heath Wellman’s account of a state’s right to freedom of association, which represents the most restrictive account of a state’s right to control borders available in the literature, can extend to justify current harmful practices against refugees. If not, then no available justification will be able to do so, and thus contemporary harmful practices used against refugees cannot be justified by a state’s right to control borders.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages32
JournalMoral Philosophy and Politics
VolumeAdvance Online Publication
Early online date20 Apr 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Apr 2023

Keywords

  • Refugees
  • Borders
  • Freedom of association
  • Immigration
  • Permissible harm

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