THE ISSAM FARES INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
On May 5, IFI held a discussion on "The Duty to Be Generous: Challenging Contemporary Ideas on Asylum and Refuge in Forced Migration," organized in collaboration with the IDRC Research Chair on Forced Displacement. The talk featured Dawn Chatty, Emeritus Professor in Anthropology and Forced Migration and former Director of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford, with discussant Maja Janmyr, IFI Associate Fellow, and moderated by Fouad Fouad, Chair of the IDRC Forced Displacement Program in the Middle East and IFI Associate Fellow.
Chatty discussed the historical context and the shift in the humanitarian response to forced migration. She started by highlighting the transition from a reciprocal duty-based approach to a rights-based mechanism for granting asylum, as formalized in the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees. However, she argued that the current rights-based asylum framework excludes many individuals and groups who are systematically prevented from reaching safety, violating their rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Chatty proposed a holistic approach that recognizes both duty-based traditions of hospitality and contemporary rights-based mechanisms derived from international law. Understanding social norms in all societies is crucial to reforming the current humanitarian aid regime.
Statistics from the UNHCR were presented, highlighting the significant percentage of the world's refugees. The region, however, faces challenges in providing sustainable conditions and legal protection for displaced populations. Nonetheless, civil society partnerships and projects in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan offer hope for the future.
Finally, Chatty called for a reevaluation of the current rights-based approach to asylum, urging the integration of duty-based traditions of generosity and hospitality within the international legal framework. She emphasized the significance of reaching a consensus on the value of human rights and the right to live free from oppression.