Refugee Crisis

Refugees should always be accepted by other countries?

voted YES
voted NO

About this debate:

According to the United Nations’ 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee is a person who is “outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.” Article 1A (2)

The cornerstone of the Convention is Article 33 which contains the principle of ‘non-refoulement’, meaning that no country “shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” Article 33 (1)

Although the 1951 Convention protects people who meet the criteria for refugee status, however, it does not prescribe a particular procedure for the determination of whether a person is a refugee or not. That decision is up to individual countries, usually through a designated central authority which assesses applications of refugees.

Hence, the question of the debate, should refugees be ‘always’ accepted by other countries? Let’s take a look at what our debaters and guests have to say regarding this very crucial and timely issue surrounding one of the most serious crisis of our times.

Voting in 20 days

Debaters' latest statements


Defending the

Dr. Kirsten McConnachie

Assistant Professor of Law at University of Warwick - UK


Against the

Mr. David Goodhart

Journalist, Author and Director at The Integration Hub - UK

Goodhart says that I ignore public opinion. He is wrong. Indeed, I believe my opinion is more widely held than his (and the votes thus far to this debate suggest that I am correct, currently sitting at 75%:25% in my favour). The implication that I ignore those who disagree with me is also wrong. On the contrary, I spend quite a lot of time trying to understand their reasoning. Goodhart has twice mentioned Donald Trump, and there are some striking similarities between the Trump phenomenon in American electoral politics and anti-refugee activism in Europe. Both groups of people are angry, and they are afraid: afraid of a world that they see as threatening and dangerous, a world where their own... Read more

Kirsten does not engage with my arguments but resorts either to abuse—“racism”—or to the claim that I am some naive fool who does not understand the facts as refugee experts like her do.  

She provides no evidence for either view. Rather she makes three points about my apparent misunderstanding. First, it is apparently a “crass” misrepresentation to claim that our current refugee policy is tempting many of the most dynamic people from poor countries. How does she know? I did not make this claim in relation to Syria, as she claims, but in relation to the refugee... Read more

Guests' latest statements



Ambassador Tariq Osman Hyder

Former Pakistan Ambassador to Ashgabat and to Seoul - Pakistan

This has of late become an emotive issue though for a country such as Pakistan, till recently the refuge of the largest number of refugees in the world till eclipsed recently by Turkey, it is not an academic or debating question, rather a national issue with many ramifications. 

It should also be clarified at the onset that Pakistan is not party to the 1951 Convention and therefore its hosting of some four million refugees at the high point in the last over 3 decades to 2.6 million registered Afghan refugees in 2005 which have declined to almost 1.6 million refugees now, has been all the more remarkable. 

Origins in the Muslim world predate relatively recent international legal... Read more



Dr. J. Olaf Kleist

Research Fellow at IMIS, Universität Osnabrück - Germany

The question whether refugees should always be accepted seems straightforward. Yet, the answer depends on the premise and the perspective taken. From a legal and ethical point of view the obligation is clear. Those who are found to be refugees have a right to receive protection. From a political perspective however, everything is relative and subject to debate, including who should be accepted based on what criteria. In fact, throughout history, including recent history, the notion of who is a refugee has changed. A definition is not set in stone and will continue to be negotiated. Many of these aspects have been covered in this thoughtful debate in one way or another. Arguably, and this is... Read more

Latest comments

No one has commented yet.

Social Media comments

No comments from social media yet.

MUSLIM Institute Latest Reports

Islam and the West

Emerging challenges and way forward (Seminar)

Myanmar's Stateless Rohingyas

The Dilemma of Myanmar's Stateless Rohingyas

Syrian Refugees Crisis

Responsibilities of International Community

View all MUSLIM Institute reports