Fencing off reality: Hungary's reactions to the arrival of refugees and their interpretation in a European legal, political and moral context
Professor Boldizsár Nagy (Associate Professor of Public International Law, Eötvös Loránd University and Central European University)
Wednesday, 17 February 2016, 5pm to 6.30pm
Seminar Room 3, Oxford Department of International Development, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TB
Hosted by Refugee Studies Centre
RSC Public Seminar Series, Hilary Term: 'Destination: Europe'
Convenors: Cathryn Costello and Stephanie Motz
In the absence of safe and legal routes to claim asylum, refugees currently make their own way to Europe, risking their lives in the process. They face many European crises: humanitarian ones at their places of arrival and border crossings; legal ones as some states flout their international and EU obligations, and security ones as rational fears become unduly associated with refugees. There are, of course, many Europes: the EU (with its elaborate Common European Asylum System); the wider Europe of the Council of Europe and pan-European human rights protection, encompassing Turkey; and the Europe of the Mediterranean, Mare Nostrum. Faced with the arrival of refugees in large numbers, the reactions and responsibilities of these various Europes will be considered. Reactions range from small scale offers of relocation and resettlement; to military responses to human smuggling in Libya; to border closures of the Balkans and Central and Eastern Europe; and moves to accommodate large new refugee populations in Germany, Sweden and the other main destination states. The series will examine the implications for European integration, European values and the global refugee protection regime, taking a long and broad view. Legal, historical and political perspectives will be explored.
This seminar series complements Issue 51 of Forced Migration Review, published on 5 January 2016 and also titled 'Destination: Europe'.
About this seminar
This lecture will address the sequence of measures adopted in Hungary in the course of 2015 gradually achieving the diversion of practically all asylum seekers to Croatia and Slovenia. It will be interpreted as a mix of denial, deterrence, obstruction, punishment, free riding and breaches of law. That interpretation will show that the discourse and the legal environment established by the government creates a parallel reality to the one experienced by the forced migrants and other European states. This imagined reality claims that "illegal immigrants" are threatening the Hungarian culture and that terrorists hidden amongst the arriving persons are a menace to all of us, against which not only Hungary, but the whole of Europe had to be defended by the Hungarian actions, including the erection of the fence at the external border. Finally, the interaction between Hungary, its neighbours and the EU as a whole will be scrutinised in order to seek opportunities for return to legally, politically and morally solid grounds.
About the speaker
Boldizsár Nagy read law and philosophy and received his PhD at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. He pursued international studies at the Johns Hopkins University SAIS Bologna Center. In addition to uninterrupted academic activity both at the Eötvös Loránd University (since 1977) and the Central European University (since 1992), he has been engaged both in governmental and non-governmental actions. He acted several times as expert for the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Council of Europe and UNHCR and participated at various inter-governmental negotiations. In the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros case before the International Court of Justice he acted as one of Hungary’s counsel. He is a co-founder and former board member of the European Society of International Law and member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Refugee Law and of the European Journal of Migration and Law. He is co-founder and editor of the on-line Refugee Law Reader. His earlier teaching venues include Beijing, Brussels, Geneva, Moscow, and New York. He has co-authored and/or edited more than two dozen books. In October 2012, he published a monograph on the development of Hungarian refugee law and refugee movements between the end of the Cold War and Hungary's accession to the EU.