human rights nonsense, war

Human Rights Nonsense (2): “Refugee Run” in Davos

A reminder what this series is about: the ways in which the language of human rights is used to push nonsense. Human rights nonsense devalues the whole system of human rights, and has to be ridiculed mercilessly if we want to preserve what is good about human rights.

This post is about the infamous “Refugee Run” earlier this year in Davos:

Refugee Run Davos

Refugee Run Davos

(source, click on the image to enlarge)

From the announcement:

During the coming World Economic Forum, we will co-host a very moving event in which people “step into the shoes” of the world’s 40 million refugees. For a moment in time, participants will be thrust into another environment where they face an attack from rebels, a “mine field”, border corruption, language incapacity, black-marketeering and refugee camp survival. Following the event, a debrief will invite the participants to discuss the refugee situation and explore ways to assist, should they wish so. … (Spoiler alert: no harm will come to you!)

In the words of Bill Easterly:

Can Davos man empathize with refugees when he or she is not in danger and is going back to a luxury banquet and hotel room afterwards? Isn’t this just a tad different from the life of an actual refugee, at risk of all too real rape, murder, hunger, and disease?

Did the words “insensitive”, “dehumanizing”, or “disrespectful” (not to mention “ludicrous”) ever come up in discussing the plans for “Refugee Run”?

This isn’t the best way to raise consciousness and awareness, to make the rich world sensitive to the problems of refugees, or to mobilize support for the activities of the UNHCR. It’s just stupid nonsense at best, and “disaster pornography” at worst, discrediting the activities of an organization that is more important than ever.

More on refugees, including some statistics.


One thought on “Human Rights Nonsense (2): “Refugee Run” in Davos

  1. I can agree with you that this is nonsense. It reminds me of stories of wealthy Westerners who visit and attempt to live the lives of the impoverished in Third World countries (only to return to their lavish lifestyles after their adventure). Most of the commoners are highly suspect of this practice, and rightly so. For the most part, it’s there for entertainment value. It is indeed dehumanizing for the people whose lives are being mocked. There’s a book, Andean Entrepreneurs by Lynn Meisch, that touches on this subject a bit. There are better way of becoming aware of and sensitive to the issues that face the billions who live in abject poverty or live the lives of refugees.

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