On the condition of alienage for refugees

Eilidh Beaton, doctoral candidate in philosophy, argues for the reconsideration of the alienage condition for refugee status.

People in fear for their lives flee their home countries every day. Some traverse multiple borders over harsh terrain with the threat of physical and sexual violence. Others try to cross the Mediterranean Sea aided by smugglers in small, unsafe boats. There are many stories; however, these journeys are almost uniformly treacherous.

Eilidh Beaton, doctoral candidate in philosophy
Eilidh Beaton, doctoral candidate in philosophy. (Image: Omnia)

What if these individuals could apply for refugee status from within their home countries, avoiding dangerous journeys and free from the reliance on human traffickers or smugglers?

In an upcoming issue of the international journal, Law and Philosophy, Eilidh Beaton, a fifth-year doctoral candidate in philosophy who spent summers volunteering for Oxfam Great Britain, makes the philosophical argument that this should be the reality.

International law currently stipulates that a refugee must meet an “alienage condition,” which states that refugee status can only be granted to someone who is physically outside of their home country. In addition to meeting the alienage condition, refugees must meet the persecution condition, which states that an individual must show a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.”

Much of the philosophical literature on refugees has centered around the persecution condition, says Beaton, while it’s taken for granted that the alienage condition should remain. Beaton wants to shatter that supposition.

“Most people, even people that argue for very radical progressive views about how we should discuss the persecution condition, generally assume that the alienage condition should be upheld,” says Beaton, whose research focuses on political philosophy and global justice. “I argue that that presupposition is flawed and that people who are facing serious harm and who remain in their home countries and have no recourse to their own governments should also be entitled to refugee status.”

This article is by Katelyn Silva. Read more at Omnia.