For Immediate Release
Academics Stand Against Poverty
London 17 September 2015: Open Letter on Migration
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We are a global community of scholars from a range of disciplinary and geographic perspectives. We are concerned about the refugee crisis that is presently unfolding in the wider Mediterranean region and distressed by the inadequacy of official responses thus far.
We face two urgent moral tasks: (1) to ensure the safety and well-being of those who have been forced to move; and (2) to address the systemic problems that are forcing people to migrate in the first place, so that migration will always be a choice and not a necessity. The first is most immediate, but ultimately the second is most important.
The global community’s long-term aim should be to address the patterns of violence, poverty, and uneven development that force people to leave their homes. Context matters. We must recognize that these patterns are features of an international system – of geopolitical maneuvering, resource extraction, trade and finance – largely designed by a small number of rich countries that derive great material advantage from it. It is crucial to protect the victims of this system and to work for its reform. This includes working to end resource wars, stemming illicit flows of capital out of developing countries, making trade regimes fairer, respecting national sovereignty, and responding to climate change.
The present crisis offers a monumental opportunity to turn tragedy into a positive global legacy. It was out of the chaos and mass displacement of the early 20th century that, as a global community, we created the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Refugee Convention with its Protocol, and a variety of structures to ensure peace, security and justice for all. Yet today, with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimating that the number of displaced people worldwide is at an all-time high, those structures are being tested.
Now is the moment to re-assert our global commitment to peace, security and justice. This is a collective and ongoing endeavour that goes beyond the narrow territorial concerns reflected in the focus on border control. As an international community, we must find new ways to work together.
At the same time, we must uphold more immediate responsibilities. The responses of citizens and communities globally to the current mass movement have far outstripped in human compassion the responses of most governments. We call upon all governments, including European and Gulf States, but also those further afield, to offer sanctuary to those who need it. This includes swift access to humanitarian protection (including support to those crossing the Mediterranean); opportunities for work and livelihood; and the registration of children born to displaced families. We urge national and international bodies to prioritise additional funding for refugees (that does not deplete existing aid or climate change commitments); and to ensure that efforts to ‘fight trafficking’ do not become an attempt to prevent migration.
Closing borders to stop people moving is not a solution. Research shows clearly that blocking individuals at points along their journey pushes them to find new migration strategies, which only makes their situation more precarious.
We need a political commitment from regional and international entities to work together. For example, we urge European states to redouble efforts to build a genuinely humanitarian European-wide response, and to provide resources and mandate to EU institutions to coordinate a truly effective response: to both protect those migrating today and to stop the likelihood of such movement in the future. A global response that addresses the systemic drivers of mass displacement (including conflict, uneven development, generalised violence and persecution of minorities) has the potential to create a positive global legacy in response to the biggest migration challenge of the twenty-first century.
Thomas Pogge, Director of the Global Justice Program and Leitner Professor of Philosophy, Yale University, USA
Tendayi Bloom, Global Justice Program Fellow, Yale University, USA
Cat Tully, Strategy & Security Insitute, Exeter University, United Kingdom
Katie Tonkiss, Lecturer in Sociology and Policy, Aston University, United Kingdom
Feargal Cochrane, Director of the Conflict Analysis Research Centre, University of Kent, United Kingdom
Jeremie Nare, Chargé de Programmes, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Mitu Sengupta, Associate Professor of Politics, Ryerson University, Canada
David Álvarez, Sociology Department Faculty, Universidade of Vigo, Spain
Txetxu Ausín, Researcher, Institute of Philosophy, CSIC, Spain
Mladjo Ivanovic and Dr. Anna Malavisi, Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University, USA
Gabriel Amitsis, Associate Professor of Social Security Law, Technological Educational Institute of Athens, Greece
Robert Lepenies, ASAP Global Colleagues Program Manager and Post-Doctoral Fellow, European University Institute, Italy
Henrieke Max, ASAP Global Colleagues Management Team Member, Germany
Ruth Blackshaw, ASAP Global Colleagues Management Team Member, USA
Luis Cabrera, Associate Professor at the School of Government and International Relations, Griffith University, Australia
Ashok Acharya, Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of Delhi, India
Paula Casal, Professor at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain
David Rodríguez-Arias, Ramón y Cajal Researcher, University of Granada, Spain
Carissa Véliz, DPhil Candidate, University of Oxford, UK
Jason Hickel, Postdoctoral fellow in Anthropology at the London School of Economics, United Kingdom
Keith Horton, Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Wollongong, Australia
Helen Yanacopulos, Senior Lecturer in International Politics and Development, The Open University, United Kingdom
Mitu Sengupta, Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson University in Toronto and Global Coordinator at the Centre for Development and Human Rights in Delhi, India
Zorka Millin, Senior Legal Advisor for Global Witness, USA
Matthew Lindauer, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Australian National University, Australia
Thana Campos, Research Associate, Von Hugel Institute, St Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge, UK
Ellen Szarleta, Director of the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence and Associate Professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Northwest, USA
Henning Hahn, Academics Stand Against Poverty, Germany
Diane Velica, Academics Stand Against Poverty, Romania
Nicole Selame, Academics Stand Against Poverty, Chile
Gottfried Schweiger, Academics Stand Against Poverty, Austria
Oluwaseun Olanrewaju, Doctoral Candidate, Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Switzerland.
Nita Mishra, Doctoral Candidate, University College Cork, Ireland
Maria João Cabrita, Researcher at the Political Theory Group, Universidade do Minho (Portugal)
Rachel Payne, ASAP Global Coordinator, USA
Chelsea Papa, ASAP Program Manager, USA
The letter has also been signed by the ASAP Global Board and chapters/associate chapters in Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Oceania, Portugal, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, and West Africa, as well as members of the ASAP Global Colleagues Program.
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Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP) is an international association focused on helping researchers and teachers enhance their impact on poverty. ASAP’s overarching aims are to contribute to the eradication of severe poverty worldwide and to help ensure that poverty policy and development efforts are guided by rigorous empirical and normative scholarship. ASAP recognises that poverty is a process, not a static given. It seeks to address the root drivers of impoverishment in both the global and domestic spheres and to highlight how some of the factors can worsen poverty in both affluent and less-affluent countries. ASAP’s theory of social change focuses on both institutions and norms. Inspired by how engaged academics helped transform views on civil rights, the US war in Vietnam, apartheid and lately gender inequality and violence, ASAP holds that we can help achieve a decisive shift of views on poverty and poor people worldwide.