The duty to naturalise refugees

This paper argues that states have a duty of legitimacy to offer refugees membership in the form of citizenship. This argument builds on a popular normative approach to refugeehood put forward by David Owen, which characterises the refugee protection regime as a ‘legitimacy repair mechanism’ for the international order of states. However, I argue that, because of the relationship between membership and the claimability of basic rights, the refugee protection regime only successfully fulfils this function when states are required to offer citizenship to refugees. This paper therefore offers an important extention to David Owen’s view. I contend that the basic condition of refugeehood is the break-down of membership: a relationship which allows individuals to claim basic rights as a matter of standing. Therefore, the legitimacy repair function of refugee protection is only successful when such membership is re-established. This account demonstrates that states’ duties to refugees go far beyond allowing entry and the protection of basic rights on a temporary basis. Instead, refugees are owed citizenship in their state of asylum.

Rebecca Buxton, The duty to naturalise refugees, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 2021.