“Voluntary repatriation” to a country of origin may be necessary to restore refugees’ rights, when only a country of origin will provide rights associated with citizenship. Yet, if refugees are returning because they do not have access to basic rights in a host country, their return is not voluntary according to UNHCR guidelines (1996). There is a tension between facilitating repatriation to restore rights, and ensuring that repatriation is voluntary. This article will first draw on arguments from moral philosophy to suggest an alternative policy to current UNHCR guidelines. Following this normative analysis, the article hypothesizes that, on an empirical level, a repatriation policy that attempts to only facilitate repatriation that is not coerced, out of concern for voluntariness alone, may fail both to prevent coerced returns and to restore right through repatriation. This hypothesis was then tested in the case of South Sudanese repatriation from Israel between 2009-2012.
When an individual signs a contract for voluntary repatriation through a private or public body, there may be a need to draw upon principles of contract law and to test contracts for unconscionability. In the case of asylum seekers and refugees, there may be procedural unconscionability when consent is only the result of fear of deportation or imprisonment, and substantive unconscionability when conditions after return include no access to basic necessities or persecution. At the same time, many asylum seekers and refugees do wish to return, despite conditions in the country of origin or because of conditions in the host country. Ethical issues regarding consent are therefore central. Yet, it is unclear how one would ensure consent under such conditions. While it may be possible to apply principles of paternalism and hypothetical consent in such cases, this may undermine the rights of those who wish to repatriate, and remove an option they otherwise would not have.
This article argues that Parfit’s Principle of Consent (CP) and Rights Principle (RP) may address these concerns and applies these principles to test for the unconscionability of two policies of repatriation of refugees and failed asylum seekers in Israel back to countries in Africa between 2009 and 2013. One policy was implemented by an NGO that repatriated failed asylum seekers to countries deemed safe, although returnees had no legal status to stay in Israel and were therefore at risk of deportation. A second NGO returned individuals to South Sudan, even though this was considered dangerous, but only returned South Sudanese who had the legal status to stay in Israel, as this was considered criteria for true voluntariness in the decision to return. By attempting to apply CP and RP in a test for unconscionability, this article addresses both the ethical dilemmas of repatriation of failed asylum seekers and refugees, as well as possible ways in which contracts, more generally, can be tested for unconscionability.
This article discusses the bilateral ties that have been forming between Israel and its periphery – that is, Greece, Cyprus, Azerbaijan and South Sudan – and draws a comparison to Israel’s previous relations with Iran, Turkey and Ethiopia. It considers the contribution of those partnerships at the security-intelligence and economic level and suggests its potential impact in the political arena. This research concludes that, despite the dividends that can be gained from security, economic and energy cooperation, its value compared to that of its predecessor is lower based on their instability, domestic issues and lower levels of regional or international influence.