As the UN declared over 70 years ago, all human beings are entitled to certain inalienable rights. These rights are contested from numerous political and theoretical perspectives. There appears to be a general consensus that these rights, and perhaps especially the right to seek asylum, are not fit for our times and evolving circumstances.This perspective represents a duality. On the one hand, it is connected to anti-globalist movements and right-wing populism. On the other hand, it reflects a progressive impatience with global challenges, such as climate change which threatens the living environment of millions of people.
For this IMER seminar, Johannes Servan, an associate professor in philosophy, will present us with the cosmopolitan critique of human rights regime. What is the cosmopolitan critique, and what are the implications of this critique? How does this perspective alter the character of the moral and political claims of foreigners? The case of global climate change will be used as an example of a morally relevant circumstantial change where it is impossible to deny that we are all to blame – some more than others – for the damaging consequences of a changing climate. Does this change of circumstances require the recognition of new cosmopolitan rights?
Johannes Servan is an assistant professor at Department of Philosophy, UiB. He is currently working on a post-doc proposal on climate refugees.
If a LGBTI person can “stay in the closet” in the country of origin, should she then be denied asylum as a refugee? This is currently a thorny issue for several European countries, when facing asylum seekers who apply for protection on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. For this IMER seminar, Andrea Grønningsæter from the faculty of law at UiB will discuss how this is currently practiced in Norway.
Research has shown that that LGBTI people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people) often face specific legal and procedural challenges when applying for refugee status. In a number of jurisdictions, including Norway, LGBTI asylum seekers have been denied refugee status with reference to the fact that they can abstain from behavior that may result in a risk of persecution. A gay person can live as a gay within the confines of the home, for example, but not on the streets – and may thus not be granted protection. It is then concluded that the requirement in refugee law of establishing a ‘well-founded fear’ of persecution is not fulfilled, because concealment will mean that the asylum seeker is not revealed to potential persecutors.
In 2012 the Norwegian Supreme Court considered the right to refugee status based on sexual orientation (Rt. 2012 s. 494). In the court’s decision it was stated that a gay person may not be required to hide their sexual orientation in the country of origin to avoid persecution. In cases where it is concluded that the asylum seeker will choose to conceal their sexual orientation, the court established a step-by-step approach for assessing whether the asylum seeker is entitled to refugee status.
For her PhD project, Grønningsæter looks at how the approach that was established by the Supreme Court in 2012 for assessing asylum cases based on sexual orientation or gender identity is interpreted by the courts and the immigration authorities. She explores how the courts and immigration authorities establish the asylum seeker’s reason for concealment, as well as how concepts such as ‘being open’ or ‘discreet’ about sexual orientation or gender identity is understood.
A light lunch will be served at the seminar. Welcome!
Andrea Grønningsæter is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law, Bergen University.
ATTENTION: NEW DATE
The war in Syria has created a large flow of refugees into Lebanon. Maja Janmyr from the faculty of law at UiB has recently conducted a prolonged fieldwork among Syrian refugees in Lebanon. She joins IMER for our first lunch seminar this semester, in order to present some findings.
In this seminar, Janmyr will explore the various legal, bureaucratic and social labels that get attached to the refugees by humanitarian, state and local government actors. A wide array of labels are imposed; registered refugee, laborer, displaced, foreigner, and more. These labels carry with them implications for what a Syrian may do, and how her presence is understood by others in the community. The labels also influence what type of rights and protections she may have access to. Importantly, the emergence of labels in one arena often influences how and why another set of labels takes shape in another.
The seminar takes place at the seminar room at the ground floor of Sosiologisk institutt, Rosenberggaten 39, between 12.30 and 14.00. A lunch will be served.
Maja Janmyr is a postdoctoral fellow at the Faculty of Law at the University of Bergen.