Should refugees govern refugee camps?

Felix Bender*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Should refugees govern refugee camps? This paper argues that they should. It draws on normative political thought in consulting the all-subjected principle and an instrumental defense of democratic rule. The former holds that all those subjected to rule in a political unit should have a say in such rule. Through analyzing the conditions that pertain in refugee camps, the paper demonstrates that the all-subjected principle applies there, too. Refugee camps have developed as near distinct entities from their host states. They have formed their own economic, legal and even political systems within which refugees are subjected to political rule. The paper then demonstrates that democratic rule should be preferred over any other decision-making procedure. No amount of experts can replace the institutions that would lead to the accountability of decision-makers and to the incorporation of refugees as situated and epistemically diverse knowers of the problems they face and the solutions that would work best.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


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