From negative to positive internationalised protection: Attenuated solidarity and the practice of refugee protection

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Abstract

This article explores the growth of international civilian-protection concepts since the 1990s and the question of what protection means in a qualitative sense. It makes a significant intervention in advancing a typology of positive and negative protection, allowing more systematic analysis of whether protective practices fulfil the normative goals of internationalised protection and creating openings for expanded imagination of possible protective practices. It is argued that practices of refugee protection during this period have been shaped by logics of externalisation that seek to maintain distance between protector and protected and attenuate cosmopolitan solidarity with vulnerable non-citizens, both of which have detrimental impacts on the depth of protective practices and the experience of protection. These practices occur at the intersection of conflicting interpretative backdrops – between the cosmopolitan-minded commitments to the protection of vulnerable non-citizens and backdrops that frame migration as a problem. Using the case of the United Kingdom (UK) asylum system, the article argues that this is generative of negative protection – practices providing immediate physical protection, but simultaneously constructing conditions of acute vulnerability. Conversely, positive protection might be found in practices that embody fuller solidarity with protected people and enable them to flourish as a socially embedded individuals.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of International Security
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2024

Keywords

  • Refugees
  • UK asylum policy
  • Practices of protection
  • Cosmopolitan solidarity
  • Communities of practice
  • Civilian protection
  • Value of security

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