Human rights and popular sovereignty

While the nature of economic difficulty that prevails in certain parts of the world is akin to persecution, most economic immigrants receive less sympathy than political refugees. This is probably because it is easier to identify the persecution in political cases. Examples of violations of socio-economic rights include, a child subjected to withdrawal of social and economic rights due to China’s one child policy, A Roma man in Czech Republic who experiences discrimination in education and employment and a street child in the Democratic Republic of Congo whose government cannot provide him/her with the basic needs for survival.

Women who leave their countries due to forces such as an educational disadvantage, prohibition to inherit land under customer law and exclusion from viable economic activities so that they can earn a living are other example of economic refugee. Hardin identifies a distinction that causes economic claims to be dismissed. This is the fact that usually the individual making a claim is not in a unique position so does not qualify for one of the elements of refugee definition of belonging to a particular social group.

States have used various restrictive measures such as visa requirements, safe third country rules and carrier sanctions . This is all in a bid to deny asylum seekers access to their country or asylum procedures. The current refugee regime is criticized by nations and member states as lacking in pragmatism. It lacks a mechanism that adjusts obligations of the country of refugee and disregards the national interest of that country. Hathaway cites the example of Tanzania which in 1994 was faced by a large influx of Rwanda and Burundi refugees which due to international customary low it had to absorb

It is only practical that a government takes into account the resources that will go into granting international protection. Asylum costs include transport costs, security costs, cost incurred by the health system, water supply, sanitation, food storage, environmental and other public services. Due to consideration of resources government in developed countries have made rules for granting refugee status more restrictive. The rules mainly target potential asylum seekers and nationals from developing countries.

The problem with this blanket approach is that it means genuine asylum seekers are turned away and in most cases the delay as they wait to find out whether asylum has been granted is another form of persecution. Migration is basically fuelled by the increasing per capita income differences between rich and poor nation. Advances in technology in transport and communication have also made international migration to increase . This to some extent explains why governments have felt the need to consider fiscal implications of immigration and underground activity that comes with migration.

The fiscal effect of migration looks at the amount immigrants pay in taxes as compared to what is spent on them through benefits and use of publicly provided goods and services. Even with consideration to resources expended on asylum systems and granting international protection, a government goals ought to be wider than purely economic and there should be government policies related to immigration and asylum whose basis are solely humanitarian. To further support this premise, a report by Gott and Jackson shows that the immigrant population has had a positive impact as far as the economy is concerned .

This then should serve as ground to campaign for a more humanitarian approach and the issue as ground to campaign for a more humanitarian approach to the issue of granting international protection to asylum-seekers. The industrial countries refusal to view the issue of refugees as mainly a humanitarian issue creates a challenge for the multilateral agencies (for example UNCHR) which have a more global outlook but a mandate that is rather narrow. Security can said to be tied with resources in that most governments invests a lot in maintaining national security and in most countries refugees are seen as a threat to security.

Two issues, human rights and popular sovereignty have shaped the constitutions of various states to date. Most governments cannot focus on one issue at the expense of the other and herein lays the major challenge to humanitarian approach to the problem of the refugees in developed countries. Many governments have as a result, resorted to strategies that make their countries less attractive to refugees. This is difficult to do without violating the rights of immigrant’s especially economic and social rights.