Refugees and justice between states
Matthew J Gibney
Abstract: In this article, I consider the neglected question of justice between states in the distribution of responsibility for refugees. I argue that a just distribution of refugees across states is an important normative goal and, accordingly, I attempt to rethink the normative foundations of the global refugee regime. I show that because dismantling the restrictive measures currently used by states in the global South to prevent the arrival of refugees will not suffice to ensure a just distribution of refugees between states, a more detailed account of how responsibilities should be shared between states is required. To this end, I make three claims. First, I argue that the definition of ‘refugee’ must be broadened beyond those subjected to persecution to include harms of action or omission by states that seriously jeopardise personal security or subsistence needs. Second, I argue that allocating a fair share of refugees to states should be based on state’s integrative capacities. Finally, I argue that distributive justice between states must be balanced against the legitimate interests of refugees in their destination country and the duty of states to ensure they are settled in places where they are likely to flourish.