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Fall 2020 Course

Migration and Human Rights

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No HLS Exam

Migration is a central moral issue of our time and its impacts will alter our world throughout this century. It affects the lives of millions, unsettles established governments, creates sharply polarizing policy dilemmas and posits far-reaching administrative, economic and political challenges. This course will focus on distress migration, including refugee flight and other forms of forced displacement, evaluated through the lens of human rights. It will address the multifaceted drivers of this complex phenomenon, including armed conflict, environmental stress and climate change, global inequality, demographic pressures and increasing globalization. Migration practitioners from a range of field sites will contribute to the classroom conversation to create a more global classroom discussion and to enhance project based learning.

The course will consider historical precedents to the current refugee and migration “crisis,” using case studies of massive past population displacements (eg Greek-Turkish population exchange post World War I, partition of British India and Palestine peri/post World War II) as instructive guides for contemporary problems. The course will raise ethical and philosophical issues related to the duties owed to “outsiders” to probe the moral, religious and political underpinnings of current approaches. It will introduce students to the international and regional legal framework governing refugee protection and migration more broadly. It will engage with the multiple risks migrants face before, during and after their journeys and with and with current policy developments, at the municipal, national, regional and international level, including the ongoing efforts of the United Nations to craft two new Global Compacts on Refugees and on Migration. Finally the course will enable students to apply legal and other approaches to the analysis of migration challenges. The material for this will be a range of contemporary case studies, including refugee situations in the Mediterranean and Sub Saharan Africa, conflict-fueled migration as well as migration flows arising from environmental displacement in the Middle East, disaster fueled migration in Asia, irregular migration in the Americas, and seasonal internal migration in Asia involving bonded-labor.

Note: This course is jointly-listed with HKS as IGA 355. It is held at HKS during their Fall 1 term.