Matthew Gibney

Professor of Politics and Forced Migration is visiting the Department of Social Work

At the moment Professor Matthew Gibney from Oxford University is visiting the Department of Social Work. He will give lectures and discuss his research about ethical and political issues surrounding refugees, immigration and citizenship.

In resent years Matthew Gibney has considered questions like: What are the ethical responsibilities of liberal democratic states to admit refugees for entry to their societies? And, is it acceptable for liberal states to strip citizenship from individuals suspected (or convicted) of terrorist offences?

Hello Matthew, What are you doing at Linnaeus University?

I'm a Visiting Professor in the Department of Social Work and I'm giving some lectures and talks to Master and undergraduates students on how to do research. I'm also giving a lecture on "Liberal democratic states and the problem of asylum" and contributing to faculty discussions about creating a new course on migration and social work.

We are facing the greatest refugee crises of our time. What are the most important challenges right now?

The most important challenge is to provide secure and lasting protection for the tens millions of people that are currently displaced from their homes across the globe, especially (but not solely) due to the catastrophic war in Syria. The conflict is Syria has also exposed another challenge: the inability of European states to cooperate amongst themselves in a way that ensure asylum to desperate people on the move. States need to be able to work together better if they are to respond in humane and effective ways to the causes and consequences of human displacement.

The international community has failed to share responsibility for the world's refugees. Why?

The vast majority of the world's refugees are hosted by the world's poorest countries in the global South. They are kept there in part by measures that prevent them accessing Northern states, like visas and carrier sanctions. What has happened over the last two years, however, is that (largely due to the war in Syria) it has become more difficult for European states to insulate themselves from large numbers of refugees. These states are finding it increasingly difficult to free ride off the goodwill of Southern states. The problem would not be so big if European (and other countries) could share responsibility and cooperate to allow for refugees to be more fairly distributed between states. But in many countries refugees are conceptualised simply as a cost and even as dangerous; it's politically far easier just to prevent arrivals, even if this is at the expense of neighbouring countries. Most states don't want to cooperate on refugee issues if they think they will have to take more refugees than they currently do unilaterally. What they need to realise, however, is that pushing refugees away and not cooperating with other states just stores up trouble for the future. Desperate people will try to find their way to these countries somehow by using illicit and dangerous routes.