Does Europe's History Of Migration And Colonialism Oblige States To Open Their Borders To Migrants Today?

2526 words - 11 pages

This paper will attempt to define the current ethical and moral dilemmas posed by European immigration, scrutinise the historical factors that had led to the present situation and conclude whether European states have an ethical obligation to open their borders to migrants. In the first section of my essay, I give a brief historical overview on European colonialism to define the factors which had contributed to the formation of the present-day political landscape. In addition, I address the key questions of migration in Europe and compare various ethical arguments and theories. By taking a non-state centric egalitarian approach, I will argue for the moral obligation to keep borders open to immigrants.
The consequences of European colonialism
Colonialism is defined as the expansion of a nation’s sovereignty to the territory of other nations. Colonies are dominated through the establishment of administrational, financial and economical dependence and the imposement of socio-cultural structures on indigenous population. European colonialism began in the Age of discovery in the fifteenth century with European maritime powers exploring Africa, the Americas, Asia and Oceania in search of alternative trade routes. Spain and Portugal have both discovered and conquered new lands, building colonies through the massacre or subjugation of indigenous population. In the seventeenth century, England, France and the Netherlands had also established their colonial empires. This overseas expansion had given rise to the Columbian Exchange, the transportation products, goods and people (including slaves) between the „old” and the „new world”. These trade routes, as well as the new territories and labour force have largely contributed to the wealth and prosperity of colonial powers. In the nineteenth century, the pace of colonisation had accelerated, leading to the Scramble for Africa, during which European powers occupied almost the whole territory of Africa. The continent was divided between the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Portugal who all managed their territories with a varying degree of intervention and violence.
The colonial domination and the trans-oceanic links established with remote cultures lead to the Age of Imperialism, with the vast majority of the world’s territory under European control. In many parts of the world, religions were forcibly replaced by Christianity, European cultural habits from politics to languages were imposed on native population who were often enslaved, abused and stripped of their properties. The Spanish and Portugese pattern of agressive colonial behaviour was repeated by the Dutch, French and British settlers. Indigenous people from North America to New Zealand were reduced to a small, dependent communities. In coastal Africa, the European appetite for slave trading had fundamentally changed the complexion of African states. Overall, centuries of colonialism had profoundly...

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