Migration & Refugees

Mains Marks Booster     3rd August 2023        


  • Migration issues exist in European countries - many migrants lose their lives while crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
  • In India, Migration from the states like Bihar, West Bengal etc have been continued towards industrial states and from states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilandu, Punjab towards Gulf Countries, USA, Canada etc.
  • Migrated people has been protesting in the cities of France over alleged racial discrimination.


Migration is both seen as an asset and a liability by the world. In order to utilize asset and shun away liability, countries around the world devise policies and laws as per their suitability. Such policies often lack ethical principles. 

Ethical interests of different stakeholders


Issues involved


  • Person leaves his/her home in search of a more decent life. They expect that place where they are relocating should treat them as equivalent to their citizen. 
  • They want them to perceive themselves as an end rather than as means.
    • Example: People have migrated from Syria, Iraq to Europe in the search of better livelihood.

Origin Country

  • The conflict between individuals’ right to exit their territories and these states’ efforts to regulate the recruitment and protect the rights of their citizens working abroad. 
  • It brings remittances and on the other hand, it causes brain drain. 
    • Example – Remittance from Gulf countries to India and migration of engineers and scientists to USA

Destination Country

  • They want to receive only productive migrants and refugees. Also, they are not open to migration above a certain limit as it may impact demographic change and resource utilization patterns.
    • Example: European nations have fixed ceiling over migration from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and other vulnerable countries.


  • Rescuers experience conflict between the moral need to assist those in need and the risk that by doing so, they can be drawn into the violent activities of either nations or human traffickers.

International Organisation

  • Organizations such as International Organization for Migration (IOM) oversee that migrants’ rights are well protected where ever they live.

Ethical Issues

Ethical Issues in Migration and Refugee Policy 

  • Utilitarian Approach: Policies give priority to the migration of skilled workforce and discourage the distress migration and refugees. 
    • Example: Engineers, doctors, etc. are given a warm welcome in developed countries but on the other hand when an illiterate from Syria or Lebanon arrives, they are not mainstreamed. 
  • Means and End: Labor economics emphasizes the movement of workers across borders to countries where their labour can be employed more productively than in their origin country. Humanity’s perspective is missing from it. 


  • Nordic countries allowed migrants to cop up with reducing populations and to engage them as service providers.
  • Apathy: Thousands of Migrants and refugees die while moving toward their destination place. 


  • Many migrants have lost lives due to capsizes of boat in Mediterranean seas.
  • North African migration to Europe is also a relevant example of it. 
  • Sensitiveness: At the global level, policies have not been formulated to deal with this fresh wave of Climate Refugees and Migrants.
    • Example: Kafala system practice in Qatar.
  • Ethics of temporary labour migration programs (TLMPs): Faced with labour and skills shortages in sectors such as social care and food production, many high-income countries have been actively considering the expansion of TLMPs, including for lower skilled migrant workers. 
    • TLMPs violate principles of domestic equality because they always afford migrant workers more restricted rights than those enjoyed by citizens.
  • Violates Human Rights: Migration policies of a country do not comply with the rights enshrined in international laws such as the - Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), UN General Assembly Resolution on the Protection of Migrants (2014), etc.

Impacts of Migration and Refugee Policy Making with and Without Ethical Principles


When Ethical Principles are not incorporated

When Ethical Principles are Incorporated

Citizenship Status

Treated like a secondary citizen

Ex. Migrants in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Rohingaya in Bangladesh

Treated equally in different arenas of Life

Ex. Chakma and Hajong refugees in India


Social, Political and Economic rights are not entitled to them.

Ex. Kafala system in Qatar

Enjoy all rights in effective ways, this helps them to live a decent life

Ex. Tech Migrants from India to USA


In adverse situations they are not able to give their best in different arena.

Ex. Refugees from Iraq and Syria

Due to equal opportunities, they are able to fully utilize their potential.

Ex. Jews and Parasi Community in India


Persecution of refugees lead them to indulge in illegal actions like trafficking, drug abuse, terrorism etc.

Ex. Trade of drug substances by refugees from Myanmar in North Eastern states of India.

Along with their development, they contribute to the development of society and the country at large.


Star Football player of France, Kylian Mbappe has deep roots in Africa

Similarly, many Migrants are star players of European Football leagues

Peace & Security

Improper integration with society leads to various conflicts such as ideological, psychological etc.

Ex. Issues of Rohingyas exodus

They are well integrated into society. Principles of Tolerance, sympathy etc. are being upheld in society.

Ex. Contribution of Parsis in India, jews in USA in economic development 

Way Forward

    • Equality and non-discrimination: It prohibits distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference on the basis of a list of non-exhaustive grounds such as race, colour, descent, ethnic origin, etc. 
      • States should address direct and indirect discrimination against and unequal treatment of people in laws, policies, and practices, etc. 
    • Respecting Human Rights: Nations should refrain from human rights violations of migrants. This includes refraining from arbitrary detention, torture, or collective expulsion of migrants. 
    • Participation and inclusion: Everyone is entitled to active, free, and meaningful participation in decisions that affect the enjoyment of their rights. 
      • Migrants should be consulted and included in the development of relevant public policy. 
    • People-centric Approach: It recognizes that migrants and refugees are men and women who make often difficult choices and deserve fair and decent treatment. They are people with identities, skills, cultures, and preferences. 
  • Accountability and rule of law: States should ensure transparency in the design and implementation of their policies and ensure that rights-holders have access to redress mechanisms and enjoy effective remedies when human rights breaches occur. 
  • The system governing migration should allow migrants full access to justice, including redress and remedies if they experience human rights violations. 


  • The policies related to migration and refugee needs to be comprehensive and broad in nature. The interest of the vulnerable needs to be given priority. 
  • Sustainable Development goals will be achieved only when all the people of the world will prosper.