Security and the ethics of asylum after 11 September
Matthew J Gibney
"Security", the philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote in 1861, "is the most vital of all interests." “On it", he argued, "we depend for all our immunity from evil, and for the whole value of all and every good, beyond the passing moment". On 11 September, the citizens of Western countries had the truth of Mill’s words brought spectacularly home to them. This lesson unleashed some lamentable consequences. The attacks of that fateful day led to war; war created refugees; refugees fled in search of asylum. The first two months of the war against the Taliban resulted in the movement of some 130,000 refugees, most of whom found a kind of rough asylum in neighbouring Pakistan. Pakistan’s borders had remained relatively open to refugees in part because of pressure by UNHCR for the country to serve as a humanitarian refuge for the course of the crisis. Yet while Pakistan was expected to offer more asylum during the course of the ‘war on terror’, all signs were that Western states would be offering less.