After several months at
sea without food and water and with no country willing to rescue them, a few
brave fishermen from Indonesia eventually saved the refugees. Several countries, among
them Thailand and Malaysia refused to receive these refugees. One of the fishermen
involved in the rescue told us that it goes without saying that they
should rescue the boats with refuges.
According to maritime law, there is a responsibility to rescue people who are in distress, he says. There are reports that there might be another 120.000 refugees on other boats, drifting at sea. How many of these refugees have already died is unknown.
The situation in the Mediterranean is similar. The European Union is trying to find a sustainable solution to keep refugees from drowning in the Mediterranean which are desperately trying to reach a safe harbour in Europe. But what happens next? Medical professionals live and work according to the international ethical rules which guide them on their way to saving lives no matter who the patient is. There is also an international norm known as the Responsibility to Protect (also known as R2P), which means that there is a responsibility to protect people who are victims of violations of international humanitarian law. This responsibility should be applicable all over the world, and be supported to its fullest by the international community within the United Nations, and Europe must take the lead.
Inspired by those brave fishermen, the maritime law and the R2P norm, the Swedish social liberal party (SLP) proposes that a law of humanity should be established in Sweden and the European Union. This law would make the EU and all member states responsible to act with solidarity when disasters strike in Europe or elsewhere.
In the United States and in some other countries, the citizens pledge allegiance to the flag. The SLP want to take this one step further, by establishing a humanitarian oath in the European Union. For immigrants taking this oath and thereby guaranteeing that they will live their life upholding this sacred oath of humanity both for fellow European citizens and for people outside of our borders, would be offered citizenship in an EU member state.
If Sweden and the European Union established a law of humanity it would give the European Union a more credible and a much stronger voice internationally and with that voice the ability to put more pressure on the international community to protect individual rights all over the world. With this kind of law and oath, the European Union would be regarded as a continent concerned about human rights, and it would also send the signal that each individual has the same value, no matter where they come from. We will at the same time welcome immigrants to our diverse but inclusive society.
With the oath we hope that immigrants to the European Union alongside with European citizens will gain knowledge about our values, democracy and laws, and that they will meet all fellow human beings with the same respect, even when there is a conflict going on in their country of origin. The law would give EU better possibilities to act faster, more effectively and with more solidarity for immigrants and between member states when faced with humanitarian catastrophes.
For SLP and everyone else who cares about human rights, the freedom of the individual must be better protected by the EU and by national law. At the same time, it must be declared that we all are equal and have the same rights and responsibilities when it comes to humanism and compassion toward each other.
Our opponents argue that by pushing immigrants away, we can focus on our own citizens, on our own problems and on our own culture, arguments declared on both EU and national level. This is really nothing more than going backwards in time, and underlining that thousands of lives are worth sacrificing.
As social liberals we believe in the good of people and in the possibilities we as Europeans have to put into practice for others as well as for ourselves. All of us have the right to feel safe and to know that if our children are suffering, there will be someone that won't turn their backs on them. This is the kind of society that we want to live in, and the kind of community that the SLP wants to build.
That´s why we appeal to all Swedish and European citizens to work together in order to establish this proposal for a law of humanity. We can show the world that we stand together for justice, equality, and freedom for each and every one of us. That´s why we need this new law of humanity to create our common future together.
Europe has everything to gain from putting its values into practice.
Leader of the Swedish
social liberal party, Valdi Ivancic