Ethics and exclusion: representations of sovereignty in Australia’s approach to asylum-seekers

Article English OPEN
Gelber, Katherine; McDonald, Matt;
(2006)

From 2001, the Australian government has justified a hard-line approach to asylum-seekers on the basis of the need to preserve its sovereignty. This article critically evaluates this justification, arguing that the conception of sovereignty as the ‘right to exclude’ inv... View more
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    98 references, page 1 of 10

    9 Such a conception is evident in a range of definitions of sovereignty in international relations, including negative (Jackson, Quasi States, pp. 27-9), external (Bull, The Anarchical Society, pp. 16-17), juridical (Samuel Makinda, 'The United Nations and State Sovereignty: Mechanisms for Managing International Security', Australian Journal of Political Science, 33:1 (1998), p. 104) or Westphalian sovereignty (Stephen Krasner, Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press,1999), pp. 3-4).

    10 Such a conception of sovereignty is particularly apparent in the work of proponents of humanitarian intervention. For example Wheeler, Saving Strangers; Alex J. Bellamy, 'Humanitarian Intervention and International Society', Review of International Studies, 29:3 (2003), pp. 321-40.

    11 On this point, see Jens Bartelsen, A Genealogy of Sovereignty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

    12 Norman Fairclough, Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical Study of Language (London: Longman, 1995), p. 1.

    13 On this point see R. B. J. Walker, Inside/Outside: International Relations as Political Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), pp. 159-83.

    14 Wouter Werner and Jaap de Wilde, 'The Endurance of Sovereignty', European Journal of International Relations, 7:3 (2001), p. 302.

    15 William Maley, for example, argues that when Australia acceded to the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 'it relinquished as a sovereign act any absolute control over who could enter the country and under what circumstances'. William Maley, 'Asylum-Seekers in Australia's International Relations', Australian Journal of International Affairs, 57:1 (2003), p. 189.

    16 M. Gibney, 'Liberal Democratic States and Responsibilities to Refugees', American Political Science Review, 93:1 (1999), p. 178.

    17 On these points, see Don McMaster, 'Asylum-Seekers and the Insecurity of a Nation', Australian Journal of International Affairs, 56:2 (2002), pp. 279-90. The increase in suffering of asylum-seekers is particularly apparent in the context of the mental health implications of long periods in detention centres, particularly for children. On this point, see Mitchell Smith, 'Asylum-Seekers in Australia', Medical Journal of Australia, 175 (2001), pp. 587-9.

    18 On this point, see Andrew Linklater, The Transformation of Political Community (Cambridge: Polity, 1998), p. 206). For a discussion of partial and impartial approaches to the obligations of liberal democratic states to refugees and asylum-seekers, see Gibney, 'Liberal Democratic States'.

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