Legal Principles and Refugees

    • Lucca November 2016
    • Presentation speakers
      • Martin Glick, University of Göttingen, Germany


    The connection between stateless people and perceived inhumanity has been written about by Kelly Staples in a number of papers. In particular, she borrows from Richard Rorty and Axel Honneth concepts about how stateless people obtain respect in a culture by first having legal representation. A comment by Beatrix von Storch, spokeswoman of the conservative political party Alternative for Germany (AfD) highlighted the issue by saying ‘Islam is in itself a political ideology that is not compatible with the (German) constitution’. Her position implies that a Muslim refugees’ presence is an affront to the founding Legal Principles of a country. It is an example of pre-emptive dehumanization that refugees carry unchanging moral and legal principles with them wherever they go. I would like to argue that people don’t carry moral, religious, or legal principles with them. Rather, stateless people ought to be seen as in possession of Agency, the humanizing principle according to Honneth and Rorty mention, which allows them to acclimate to a country’s legal principles transcending whatever previous cultural allegiances they are bound to. At the heart of the issue is a typical conservative argument against the introduction of refugees into the country on the grounds that they are corrupting forces. In this case Beatrix has invoked Legal Principles which I would like unpack in this essay as illogical by referring to Personal Identity, contemporary issues of citizenship, and research into stateless done by Kelly Staples.