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7.1: Introduction

  • Page ID
    76755
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    In 2004, Tom Hanks starred in a movie called The Terminal. Hanks played Viktor Navorski, a character that ends up becoming stateless due to civil war in his home country. This causes him to be denied entry to or exit from the United States (US). Viktor is forced to take up residence in JFK International Airport and the comedy-drama depicts his experiences as a person living outside of the state system. The importance of The Terminal, and its depiction of statelessness however, is that Viktor’s story is based on the real-life story of Mehran Karimi Nasseri, who spent 18 years living in the departure lounge of France’s Terminal One, Charles De Gaulle Airport. Nasseri’s case is an interesting example of statelessness, but it also demonstrates the vulnerability of refugees. After being granted refugee status by Belgium, Iranian-born Nasseri tried to settle in the United Kingdom (UK), which he claimed was his mother’s country of origin. En route to the UK, his documents were stolen in Paris and upon his arrival in Britain he was turned back to France. Thus began his life in the terminal and provided the story upon which the movie was based.

    This chapter explores the experiences of individuals and groups outside of the state system. It firstly provides a general overview of the phenomenon of statelessness before focusing its attention on refugees and asylum seekers. In doing so it examines the refugee crisis, current trends in refugee flows worldwide and state responses to refugee movements. It examines the link between refugee outflows and breakdowns in human security, using the Rohingya crisis as a case study. It then critiques Australia’s tough stance against asylum seekers, using the experiences of an asylum seeker (named Michael), who was deported from Australia to dangerous circumstances in his homeland Angola, as a case study. That section also examines the impact of 9/11 on state responses to refugees and asylum seekers, and how states can best address the needs of refugees so they can contribute to their new country of citizenship. It then identifies what is meant by environmental refugees, and how climate change will lead to the rise of environmental refugees if appropriate climate action is not taken.

    The chapter then examines other individuals and groups outside of the state system. It focuses on alienated citizens who committed acts of sub-state terrorism, using Timothy McVeigh and Anders Behring Breivik as case studies. The two case studies have many similarities, and reflect both McVeigh’s and Breivik’s experiences of alienation and subsequent acts of sub-state terrorism. It then examines statelessness as a motivation for terrorism. In this examination, Wafa Idris, the first female suicide terrorist of the Second Intifada, provides our case study. Idris’ act of terrorism brought attention to Palestinian statelessness, and it also provides a useful basis for gendered analysis of terrorism and responses to terrorism. The chapter ends with a broad overview of counter terrorism in the 21st century, and the changes to human rights and human insecurities that have resulted. This discussion also highlights what constitutes a human security based approach to countering terrorism.


    7.1: Introduction is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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