Ethics@Noon: Patti Tamara Lenard

Ethics at Noon

The Ethics of Citizen Selection of Refugees for Resettlement

One way that states discharge their duties to refugees is by admitting them for resettlement. Of the millions of refugees in places of refuge, only one million are specially designated by the UNHCR for resettlement in third countries. These individuals, identified by the UNCHR as either especially vulnerable, or particularly unlikely to find any alternative permanent solution, are prioritized for admission to third countries for resettlement. Of these, only a small number are actually selected by host countries for resettlement, however; last year, just over 100 000 found permanent homes in third countries. In this talk, I consider the ethics of one particular way of selecting refugees for resettlement, that is, by giving citizens the driver’s seat in selecting refugees for admission to resettlement. I ask whether it is morally acceptable to permit citizens to name specific refugees for resettlement, under the condition that they are willing to support – financially and emotionally – those whom they name. I argue, ultimately, that there are moral goods that derive from permitting citizens to select refugees for admission, but that they do not outweigh the importance of offering scarce resettlement spots to those who are most in need. Therefore, any refugee admission scheme that permits citizens to select refugees must constrain those who can be named for admission to those who are most in need. I conclude with some proposals for how this can be achieved.

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Patti Tamara Lenard
University of Ottawa
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

Wed, Jan 16, 2019
12:30 PM - 02:00 PM
Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto
200 Larkin