Refugees and the Duty of Rescue Conference

June 9, 2022 - June 10, 2022
Durham University

United Kingdom


King's College London
University of Southampton
Northeastern University


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Refugees and the Duty of Rescue Conference 9th-10th June 2022, Durham University. 

Keynote speakers include Serena Parekh (Northeastern University), Sarah Fine (Cambridge University); and David Owen (University of Southampton).

Recent events, not least in Afghanistan and Ukraine, in addition to longer-term causes of displacement, have brought to the fore the pressing question of how states ought to respond to refugees. This conference aims to reach an understanding of the nature and weight of moral and political duties towards the world’s displaced. According to the dominant Duty of Rescue Approach, states in the Global North are innocent bystanders overlooking the humanitarian crisis of refugee displacement unfold, and these states have duties to rescue refugees from this situation at least if they are able to do so at little cost to themselves. This conference explores and analyses the adequacy of this Duty of Rescue Approach as a framework for understanding moral obligations towards refugees.

The conference will explore broad questions on the normative basis and framework for understanding obligations to refugees and on the Duty of Rescue Approach itself. Relevant questions may include (but are not limited to) how weighty the duty of rescue is towards refugees, what demands does it place on states, and whether it overrides a state’s right to control borders, and what exactly the duty of rescue entails? Does the duty of rescue entail providing only for safety and subsistence for refugees, or is something additional morally required? Is the provision of refugee camps a sufficient fulfilment of the duty of rescue towards refugees? Can priority for Ukrainian refugees over non-Ukrainian refugees be morally justified? Is the strength of the duty of rescue sensitive to proximity or cultural ties with different groups of refugees? We will also critically analyse the framework of the Duty of Rescue Approach itself (compared with other normative frameworks) as an appropriate model for understanding obligations to refugees.

If you would like to present then please submit an anonymised abstract of 300 suitable for the basis of a 20 minute presentation to [email protected] by 20th April 12pm.

If you would like to attend then please register for the conference by emailing [email protected] by 20th May 12pm. 

The conference will be held in person at Durham University, but with provisions available for online presentations if necessary.   

For any further information please email Bradley at [email protected]

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May 20, 2022, 9:00am BST

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