The Case for a Collective Value-based Response to the EU Refugee Crisis

On March 2, Manuella Appiah, researcher at The Hague Institute, contributed to a panel discussion at the inaugural Raisina Dialogue organized by the Ministry of External Affairs of India and the Observer Research Foundation. The two-day conference was designed to explore opportunities for Asian integration and the pivotal role India could play in this process.

Keynote speakers at the conference included Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (Former President, Sri Lanka), Hamid Karzai (Former President, Afghanistan), James Mancham, (Former President, Seychelles), Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh) and Sushma Swaraj (Minister of External Affairs, India).

The conference panel, ´Whither European Union’, explored the challenges confronting the Eurozone, which continues to experience: slow economic growth and the unresolved Greek financial crisis; the testing of its core values by the refugee crisis, and the threat of terrorism; and challenges by Russia to the European periphery in the east.

Focusing on the EU refugee crisis, Ms. Appiah argued that the unprecedented and incredible nature of the influx of refugees demands a common and effective response which is first and foremost humane. She further stressed the need for the European Union and its member states to resist the temptation to throw overboard their commitment to the EU’s own legislation and principles and to ensure their actions align with international humanitarian norms.

Further, Ms. Appiah discussed that the EU has over the years positioned itself as a fervent promoter of a rule of law-based international legal and political order, with special focus on the relevance of fundamental rights within and outside the region. In the EU Treaties as revised by the Lisbon Treaty, the EU commits explicitly to “the strict observance of international law”, “human rights”, and “the rule of law”. The Union has frequently admonished other countries around the world for not upholding these rights. In her view, the current practice of some member states directly contradicts the commitment and values of the Union in many ways, and can tarnish its credibility as an international actor.

In concluding, Ms. Appiah reiterated that the EU as a collective body must be reminded of the core values – human rights, peace, and solidarity– upon which it is founded in order to manage and eventually overcome the crisis. She underscored that a collective, value-based response by the EU and its member states is needed to address the needs of the victims of war and persecution. The EU and its member states must demonstrate serious commitment towards this goal.

Other speakers on the panel included: Jakob von Weizsäcker (Member of the European Parliament, Germany); Geoffrey Van Orden (Conservative Defence Spokesman in the European Parliament, UK); Ali Resul Usul (President, Center for the Strategic Research of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkey); Stepan Grigoryan (Chairman, Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation, Armenia)  and Ali Aslan (TV-host and journalist Deutsche Welle TV, Germany).The panel was moderated by Siddharth Varadarajan (Founding Editor, The Wire, India).

The contribution of Ms. Appiah to the Raisina Dialogue is part of a series of strategic activities by The Hague Institute as part of its work on migration and global justice.

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