Human Rights and Migrations Workshop


16 de Novembro
Sala dos Conselhos, UBI

Presidente da Faculdade
Coordenador do LabCom.IFP

Moderação: José Manuel Santos

Emmanuel Picavet (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)
Individual free choice and political institutions in age of diminished migration-related expectations

11:00 – 11:10

Coffee break

Moderação: António Bento

André Santos Campos (IFLNOVA)
Não-nacionais e representação política

David Álvarez (CEPS-FCT)
Refugiados como capital humano transnacional

12:30 -14:10
Almoço na Malufa

Moderação: André Barata

Bruno Peixe Dias (ETHU, Vrije Universiteit Brussel/ CFUL)
Direitos humanos e comunidade política: aporias e limites dos direitos do homem

Patrícia Fernandes (Universidade da Beira Interior/ CEPS)
Democracia e direito ao livre movimento: uma relação conflituosa

15:40 – 15:50
Coffee break

Moderação: Bruno da Costa

Gonçalo Marcelo (CECH - UC / Católica Porto Business Scholl)
Uma defesa da migração como direito humano: problemas, desafios e tarefas

Maria João Cabrita (LabCom.IFP / CEPS)
Migração & pobreza: em nome do mínimo de dignidade humana


In the post-globalization era, characterized by the revitalization of nationalism, populism and protectionism, the transnational flow of people is one of the crucial ethical and political issues that domestic societies and the international community have to face. In the nation-state’s case, especially by representing a challenge to notions and practices of democracy and citizenship; in the international community, insofar as it makes obvious its inability to reply to  scenarios of human rights deficits  instigated by wars, climate change, natural disasters, harmful policies, and so on. On the other hand, it is disconcerting that, in the 21st century, any individual of the world cannot wholly enjoy his/her human right to freedom of movement, especially in subsistence and security cases; being blocked by territorial borders, policies of admission and inclusion that, are based on the interests of nation-states and their citizens, which are becoming increasingly restrictive. In these times, being an immigrant or a refugee is not easy! … It was never easy! But most probably, there has never been such a deep awareness that life expectations and opportunities of the human beings should not be narrowed by moral arbitrariness or contingent facts, like the place and time of birth.

— Abstracts

Non-nationals and political representation
André Santos Campos (IFLNOVA)

Among the several effects of recent migration flows, there is a growing asymmetry between the group of persons who are addressees of legal norms (local populations) and the group of persons who have civil and political rights of active citizenship (the people). This presents a challenge to the concept of political representation. How are non-nationals, who are addressees of legal norms and thus participate not in law-making but in the efficacy-making stage of legal norms, to be considered vis-à-vis political representation? Are they a third party (the audience, the interlocutor) to the relation between the represented and the representatives? Or are they something else entirely? Within such a frame of reference, this paper intends to provide a social constructionist approach to the concept of constituency. An analysis of the represented will conclude that constituencies are composed of an array of different constitutive concepts (the people, the electorate, the electoral circle, the voters) that somehow form a scale of descriptive representation. Hence, political representation cannot be conceived solely as a binary relation between represented and representative, but as a ‘ladder of mediation’ in which several different aggregative concepts intervene. This opens the door to the problem of whether non-nationals have a right to be included in at least one of such constitutive concepts of political representation, even if they are denied the right to vote in local elections. The conclusion will ascertain that certain non-nationals are not necessarily a third party in representation, but can be members of certain sections of the constituency and thereby enjoy certain political and civic liberties and rights to political participation.

Human rights and political community: aporias and limits of human rights
Bruno Peixe Dias (ETHU, Vrije Universiteit Brussel/ CFUL)

The problem of the subject of Human Rights, one of the most discussed in the literature, is the theme of our presentation. The question “Who is the subject of human rights?” is frequently met with either utopian naiveté or with realist cynicism, leading thinkers as diverse as Alain Badiou or Immanuel Wallerstein to indict the modern discourse and practice of human rights as forms of false universalism, ideological constructs at the service of neo-colonial projects and selective military interventions lead by western powers.
Hannah Arendt points, in her book on imperialism, to a paradox at the heart of human rights: the guarantee of such rights is dependent on the belonging to a determinate institutional and juridical order when, according to their concept, the simple belonging to the human species should be guarantee enough that they will be respected. We will argue that the paradoxical condition identified by Arendt apropos the situation of the refugees in the period of the great European civil war is a permanent one, a condition that the crisis of capitalism and the flux of foreigners to western countries as a result of war or other catastrophes has only made more visible.
This paradoxical condition is not the result of the exhaustion of the nation-state model as the almost universal form of political community, nor of the failure of the promise of a global extension of human rights by the defenders of cosmopolitanism. We will defend that such paradox was inscribed, since the beginning, in the project of the Nation-State as a political form that claims to itself the monopoly of both the production of laws and of the means to enforce them. To argue our point we will approach one of the inaugural scenes in the institutionalization of human rights: the French Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.

Refugees as transnational human capital
David Álvarez (CEPS-FCT)

The paper offers an analysis of the collapsing normative principles and practices of the international system of refuge and asylum and the incentive-based proposal defended by Betts and Collier (2017). As a consequence, this proposal ends up conceiving refugees under the logic of “human capital” for host states. An additional unintended consequence of this approach is that the most qualified segment of refugees is in turn conceived as human capital for the rest of the contingent. Following Arjun Appadurai’s terminology, poor refugees would be those that cannot even aspire to relocate and adapt successfully to a different social environment (99%). In contrast, those with the required skill set would amount to an elite group of refugees with a larger capacity to aspire (1%). However, their individual rights and interests are subordinated to a logic of collective incentives.
As an alternative, the paper explores urban reception networks as a source of transformation of the international system of territorial states into a more cosmopolitan direction.

Emmanuel Picavet (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)

Given the catastrophic situation of a great number of migrants today, it is understandable that the invitation to more generous hospitality policies appears hardly sufficient. It might seem appropriate to go beyond, in favor of a no-border conception of equal opportunities and free choice for individuals of all nationalities. A critical discussion of this proposed ethical shift will be developed. 
It will be argued that an atomistic view of the individual equipped with his/ her interests and opportunities in life is inadequate for remedying the failures of the current international order which give prima facie plausibility to it. The argument deals with the consequences of turning this atomistic view into a recognized model which frames public action and cultural representations.
On the one hand, taking a realistic view of human exploitation in the tragedies of migration today, moving from hospitality to a no-border opportunity-based individualistic framework is likely to encourage absurd risk-taking in connection with dubious economic expectations. On the other hand – and this will be more developed here – the performative effects of endorsing ethical benchmarks of this sort are likely to undermine basic features of the integration of democratic participation, social dialogue, institutional loyalty and, indeed, hospitality-based immigration. 

A Defense of Migration as a Human Right: problems, challenges and tasks
Gonçalo Marcelo (CECH - UC / Católica Porto Business Scholl)

In this talk I intend to put forward a defense of migration and asylum rights in a human rights-based perspective, with the recent refugee crisis in Europe as a backdrop. I will try to pinpoint the problems (failure of the Westphalian paradigm, lack of effectiveness of International Law and of solidarity of many peoples, including and above all the European people), challenges, such as the attempt to uncouple political representation and the attribution of rights from national citizenship and possible tasks that might put us on that way – i.e., the transnationalization of the public sphere and a stronger pedagogy of human rights. Today, spelling out the goal in these terms might be tantamount to a utopia. However, going from ideal theory towards a possible implementation obviously hinges on our capacity to break down the ideal in partially fulfillable tasks. If possible, the realization of this goal would obviously entails a top down solution that would grant international law greater effectiveness, but one which would probably never be attained without the pressure of bottom up processes, that is, of the global public opinion.

Migration & poverty: in the name of the minimum of dignity
Maria João Cabrita (LabCom.IFP / CEPS)

In the light of the cosmopolitan principle “the welfare of individuals is the priority moral issue” it would be desirable to treat poverty eradication policies and migration policies as complementary rather than as mere alternatives. And this because, in the name of the minimum of human dignity, the issues of poverty and migration are necessarily interlinked. According to this assumption, states should be responsible not just per ensure the respect and the fulfilment of their citizens' human rights, but also, qua members of the international community, per protect the subsistence right of foreigners that, not enjoying minimum life conditions in their native countries, seek to rectify this gap by entering and staying in the territory of others. Unfortunately, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the consequent Conventions do not say anything about this matter; and state policies tend to take as a premise the right and not the duty to host foreigners. Even when, in the face of a humanitarian crisis, the states assume the duty to help such victims, the policies followed have by weight and measure the maintenance of the level of well-being and security of its citizens. State policies on migration tend to overlook the abysmal economic inequality among citizens of underdeveloped and developed countries; and that the greater openness and reception of strangers, by the latter, can function as recompense for the influx of their international policies and harmful practices.
In the wake of these considerations, we intend to explore at what level the relationship between poverty and migration and, of course, their solutions, is recognized by two distinct approaches of cosmopolitan egalitarian liberalism about the boundaries opening: i) the ideal theory based on the liberty, equality of opportunities and moral equality ideals (Joseph Carens); and ii) the no-ideal theory founded on the global duty not to cause harm to others (Shelley Wilcox). In this sense, we will try to show that to confer priority to one of these problems – or to migration or to poverty – does not mean denying the fundamental link between them.

Democracy and the right to free movement: a conflicting relation
Patrícia Fernandes (Universidade da Beira Interior / CEPS)

This paper will try to present the conflicting relation of two political elements: on the one hand, the necessary conditions for a democratic project; on the other hand, the consequences of a broad principle of free movement. For this purpose I will draw the attention to three aspects of sharing as conditions for a democratic project: the feeling of identity, a common political project and a sentiment of trust widely felt. These identity claims, present in the Athenian democracy, were reinterpreted by the liberal universalism, in which the claim to free movement was born. As a result of the liberal paradigm, and using multiculturalism and interculturalism as political strategies, the right to free movement seems to challenge those democratic conditions – a tension that manifests itself with particular emphasis these days.
My intention is precisely to contribute to our present debate, considering the most and less recent events in Europe: if the last decades of the 20th century considered broad immigration politics (in result of the decolonization process, the economic growth after WWII and the opening of borders during the Cold War), the 21st century is now questioning this migratory politics as a factor that disturbs the European identity. Two recent elements shall also allow me to exemplify that tension: the economic crisis of 2007/8 (moment of crisis of the European project that gave rise to democratic claims in order to renew the present democratic system) and the refugee movement of 2015.



Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
União Europeia
Quadro de Referência Estratégico Nacional
Programa Operacional Factores de Competitividade
Universidade da Beira Interior