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Public Seminar Series, Michaelmas term 2018

Series convenors: Professor Matthew Gibney, Professor Cathryn Costello, Professor Tom Scott-Smith

About the seminar

Every year, thousands of refugees and other migrants die trying to cross borders. The dangers are many. Migrants die from exhaustion crossing deserts, freeze to death on mountain passes, drown at sea. One way states can save lives is by undertaking search and rescue missions. This seminar asks whether receiving states have any special duty to do so. The idea of a “special duty” here can be brought out with the following question: do receiving states owe a duty to rescue migrants at borders that they do not owe all people in need? In answering this question, the seminar starts with an important yet easily overlooked point: crossing borders is not inherently dangerous. Migrants die crossing borders because receiving states restrict migration. This fact, in itself, does not mean that receiving states have a special duty to rescue, but it does mean they cannot claim that border deaths are nothing to do with them. The question we need to ask is whether receiving states bear moral responsibility for border deaths rather than merely causal responsibility. The seminar goes in search of, and finds, arguments for why receiving states are morally responsible. States cannot treat border deaths like any other misfortune without changing their immigration policies.

About the speaker

Dr Kieran Oberman is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Edinburgh. He joined the University in September 2013 from University College Dublin where he was a Teaching Fellow. He obtained his DPhil in Politics from Oxford University and has since held positions at the University of Louvain, Stanford University and the Asian University for Women.

At Edinburgh, Kieran plays an active role in both the Just World Institute and the Political Theory Research Group

He has written articles for public forum websites such as OpenDemocracy and the Just World Institute.  These articles seek to apply ideas from political philosophy to contemporary public affairs.


Listen to the podcast of the seminar here >>

Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture

The Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture is named in honour of Dr Barbara Harrell-Bond, the founding Director of the Refugee Studies Centre. It is held each year in Michaelmas term.

Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture

The Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture is held in Trinity term. It is named after Professor Elizabeth Colson, a renowned anthropologist.

Public Seminar Series

Each term the RSC holds a series of public seminars, held on Wednesday evenings at Queen Elizabeth House. Click here for details of forthcoming seminars.

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Forthcoming events

Ukraine: Insights and Implications

Tuesday, 17 October 2023, 1pm to 2pm @ Online via Zoom

Book launch: Time and Power in Azraq Refugee Camp

Wednesday, 01 November 2023, 5pm to 6pm @ Seminar Room 2, Queen Elizabeth House, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TB

Who Gets Believed? A conversation with Dina Nayeri | Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture 2023

Monday, 20 November 2023, 5pm to 6.30pm @ St Anne's College, 56 Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2 6HS