Caring at a distance: (im)partiality, moral motivation and the ethics of representation – asylum and the principle of proximity
Matthew J Gibney
Article 1 of the 1951 Geneva Convention furnishes a common and universal definition applicable to all refugees irrespective of their state of origin. However, I will argue that international refugee law—or at least its key principle, the principle of non-refoulement—introduces a morally arbitrary criterion for determining the responsibilities of states: a refugee’s proximity to an international boundary. The role of this criterion, moreover, is one factor in explaining why the current refugee regime is in crisis. Acknowledging the desirability of moving towards a less partial international system, I will outline some of the difficulties associated with creating an international system where all refugees matter to us and matter equally.