European Union Refugee Crisis and International Relations
Involuntary migration of populations occurs in ecological contexts that are defined by political, economic, and sociological calculations in both the country of origin and the host country. In contemporary world politics, the refugee crisis is one of the biggest challenges that the international system contends with, and it is tied to other concerns like civil wars, international terrorism, economic downturns, contested political outcomes, and desire for political inclusivity. The European Union is currently faced with unprecedented continent-wide refugee arrivals from Africa and Middle East (Nuttall, 2016). While the causes of the refugee migrations can be tied to political upheavals in the countries of origin, its ramifications on the European Union, as well as an international relations phenomenon, is far reaching. The analysis of the refugee crisis in the European Union helps understand its international relation designation.
Refugee Crisis and International Relations
The refugee crisis in the European Union merits an international relations designation because of the way it touches the major concepts that undergird international relations. The foundations of international relations are guided by concepts like sovereignty, international law, organizations, and wars (Orend, 2012). Refugees entering the European Union are victims of armed conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo as a result of political contestations that spawned and are continuing to fuel the civil unrests (BBC, 2016). Resultantly, the refugees are forced to migrate from their country and find refuge in the relatively peaceful and stable European Union countries.
The international law provides the legal framework for the acceptance and treatment of refugees and asylum seekers (Orend, 2012). The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951, as an international law, obligates the European Union countries to accept refugees from such countries as Syria and Libya, and offer them asylum, despite their large numbers. This international document entrenches the need for the respect of the refugees’ rights including the provision of security, shelter, and nationality, if possible, for them.
Equally important for international relations, European Union refugee crisis also invokes debates about state sovereignties as a state formation concept (Orend, 2012). In the Westphalian system, states are defined as territorial with their own populations whose citizenry is attained by birth or registration. However, the refugee crisis has necessitated the urgent need to open borders of the European Union to allow refugees fleeing from hostilities in their home countries.
Moreover, the origin of the European Union refugee crisis can be used to understand such international relations concept as human rights and how it can be applied to explain the plight of the refugees. The premium attached to refugees’ rights is the most compelling impetus for the European Union countries to accept them. The respect of human rights is the core motivation to create refugees asylums regardless of their large numbers.
The European Union refugee crisis also provides a framework for a broader understanding of the nature and scope of the European Union as an international organization. International organizations are made up of states that are bound together by common interests and laws. The European Union, as an international organization, is made up of structures, laws, and institutions through which it addresses the refugee crisis that has been on ascendancy since the civil war broke out afresh in Syria, Libya, and other countries (BBC, 2016). As an organization, the European Union provides the leadership, through consultations with its member states, on how the refugees are distributed and integrated into their respective societies.
The refugee crisis in the European Union has necessitated a rigorous formulation and conduct of foreign policy among the European Union countries as well as between the European Union and other countries including the refugees’ countries of origin. Foreign policy provides the means through which states engage in international relations and international politics. This anchor on the nature of foreign policy that entails a state’s activities outside of its state boundaries in the international system (Orend, 2012). Resulting from the refugee crisis, a series of foreign policy activities between the other European Union countries and Turkey has resulted in deals through which the European Union has attempted to mitigate the refugee crisis (Caylan, Christides, and Popp, 2016). Turkey, geo-strategically located as gateway into Europe from Asia, has been the major entry point of refugees from war-torn Syria into the European Union. Through foreign policy measures, the other countries of the European Union have attempted to provide financial incentives to Turkey in a bid to persuade it to close its borders.
Thus, the European Union refugee crisis merits are seen as an international relations issue. The core concepts of international relations help to define the degree of the refugee crisis and the way it can be evoked in an attempt to explain its causes, impacts, and practical remedies. Although the European Union as an international organization should enforce international norms and laws regarding the treatment of refugees in their quest to obtain asylum, it also suffers from it as a large number of refugees are unwelcomed by the European countries.
BBC. (2016). Migrant crisis: Migration to Europe explained in seven charts. BBC News. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34131911.
Caylan, E., Christides, G., & Popp, M. (2016). EU-Turkey deal dying in the Greek islands. Spiegel Online. Retrieved from http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/refugee-situation-in-greece-a-threat-to-turkey-eu-deal-a-1117013.html.
Nuttall, T. (2016). Looking for a home. The Economist. Retrieved from http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21699307-migrant-crisis-europe-last-year-was-only-one-part-worldwide-problem-rich.
Orend, B. (2012). Introduction to international studies. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.