Global Refugee Crisis

Be it resolved, give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...

April 1, 2016

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It is the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. Over 300,000 dead in Syria. One and a half million injured or disabled. Four and a half million people fleeing the country as refugees. And Syria is just one of a growing number of failed or failing states in the Middle East and North Africa. How should developed nations respond to human suffering on this mass scale? Do the prosperous societies of the West, including Canada and the U.S., have a moral imperative to assist as many refugees as they reasonably and responsibly can? Or, is this a time for vigilance and restraint in the face a wave of mass migration that risks upending Western nations’ openness, tolerance and ultimately their very way of life?

To engage with the geopolitical debate of the moment, the Spring 2016 Munk Debate will move the motion: “be it resolved, give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...

The Results

Pre-Debate

77%

Pro

23%

Con

Post-Debate

55%

Pro

45%

Con

Con wins with 22% vote gain.

The Debaters

Louise Arbor

Louise Arbor

Pro

"Our long suit has been a very generous approach on the humanitarian side, particularly to taking in refugees."

Louise Arbor

Louise Arbor

Pro

"Our long suit has been a very generous approach on the humanitarian side, particularly to taking in refugees."

The Honourable Louise Arbour's career of public service includes sitting on the Supreme Court of Canada from 1999 to 2004, acting as the Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and serving as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She was CEO of the renowned International Crisis Group from 2009 to 2014. Arbour is a Companion of the Order of Canada and recipient of twenty-seven honorary degrees.

 

Arbour is a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty. She is also a member of the Advisory Board of The Coalition for the International Criminal Court. She chaired an inquiry commission that investigated certain events at the Prison for Women in Kingston, Ontario, and has also served as a member of the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security. 

 

Arbour has been a Companion of the Order of Canada since 2007 and a Grand Officer of the Ordre national du Québec since 2009, as well as a Commander of the Légion d'honneur, and has been decorated by both Spain, Colombia and Belgium. She is currently a jurist in residence at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.

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Simon Schama

Simon Schama

Pro

"There’s nothing to be ashamed of about having an emotional response to the suffering of 4 million Syrian refugees."

Simon Schama

Simon Schama

Pro

There’s nothing to be ashamed of about having an emotional response to the suffering of 4 million Syrian refugees.

Simon Schama is an internationally acclaimed historian, political commentator, and art critic. He is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University, and the award-winning author of seventeen books, including Rough Crossings and The Story of the Jews (the second volume, When Words Fail, will appear in 2017). 

Schama is and the writer-presenter of fifty documentaries on art, history and literature for BBC2. He has written and presented more than thirty television documentaries for PBS, the BBC, and the History Channel. His art criticism for The New Yorker won the National Magazine Award for criticism in 1996, his film on Bernini, The Power of Art, won an Emmy in 2007, and his series The American Future: a History received Broadcast Critics Guild awards. He writes on cooking and food for GQ, fashion for Harper’s Bazaar, and on everything else for the Financial Times.

He curated the Government Art Collection show, Travelling Light, at the Whitechapel Gallery in London and has collaborated with Anselm Kiefer, John Virtue and Cecile B. Evans on contemporary art exhibitions and installations. In the autumn of 2015, The Face of Britain, a history of British portraiture, appeared as a five-part BBC television series and as a book and an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. He is currently working on Civilisations, a television history of world art. 

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Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage

Con

"We’ve sent out a message to the world that anyone can come. That is why they’re coming."

Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage

Con

We’ve sent out a message to the world that anyone can come. That is why they’re coming.

Nigel Farage is the leader and a founding member of the UK Independence Party (UKIP). In the 2015 UK general election, the UK Independence Party came in third with thirteen percent of the popular vote or 3.8 million ballots cast. Mr. Farage was recently named “Briton of the Year” by The Times and ranked first in the Daily Telegraph’s Top 100 most influential right-wing politicians.

Since 1999 he has been a Member of the European Parliament for South East England. From 2004 to 2009 he served as President of the Independence and Democracy Group in the EU, and from 2009 to the present, he has been serving as President of the Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group in the EU.

Under Farage’s leadership, UKIP secured nearly 17 percent support in the 2009 European Parliament elections, won 13 of the United Kingdom’s 72 seats, and narrowly pushed the Labour Party into third place. UKIP won more than 160 council seats in local elections in May 2014. Those elections were held concurrently with polls for the European Parliament. Fulfilling a goal set by Farage, UKIP rode a wave of Euroskeptic sentiment to a historic first-place finish. The party captured more than 27 percent of the popular vote, resulting in 24 seats. That result marked the first time since 1906 that a party other than Labour or the Conservatives had won a national election. 

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Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn

Con

"Germany et al are declaring the interests of untold millions of “refugees” trump the interests of their own citizens."

Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn

Con

Germany et al are declaring the interests of untold millions of “refugees” trump the interests of their own citizens.

Mark Steyn is an internationally acclaimed author, writer, journalist, and conservative political commentator. He has written five books, including America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, a New York Times bestseller. His commentaries on politics, arts, and culture appear regularly in the National Post, the Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic. Mark Steyn guest hosts Rush Limbaugh’s top-rated talk radio program and Hannity on Fox News television.

During his time as obituarist for The AtlanticThe Washington Post remarked that “Mark Steyn may be the world’s wittiest obit writer.” Many of his obituaries are collected in his book Mark Steyn’s Passing Parade. Steyn contributed to the climatology bestseller Climate Change: The Facts, and edited A Disgrace to the Profession: The World’s Scientists – in Their Own Words – on Michael E Mann, His Hockey Stick, and Their Damage to Science: Volume One

An accomplished broadcaster, he was the host of the live Glyndebourne opera broadcasts on Britain’s Channel Four, and his acclaimed BBC special with singer-songwriter Paul Simon has been shown in over 100 countries. In his native Toronto, he can be heard every fortnight on the radio with John Oakley.
 

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