No Space. Nowhere. Refugees and the Problem of Human Rights in Arendt and Ricœur.

Hille Haker


In the wake of the recent global refugee and migration crisis, Hannah Arendt’s defense of the right to have political rights has become prominent again. Her work is read as an early reminder that the internationally promoted human rights regime may be merely a rhetorical reference, without the will or international authority for political action. I examine Arendt’s analysis in its historical context and then turn to consider Ricœur’s understanding of human rights. The capability to respond to and to be held accountable by others marks Ricœur’s ethics of responsibility. He agrees with Arendt that legal authority must rest upon power (Macht) and not domination (Herrschaft), but he insists that the undercurrent of common power is the moral capability of an agent. The essay examines the ramifications of Ricœur’s ethics for the current crisis of refugees and migration, and it argues that he offers, at the same time, a correction useful for the ethical foundation of human rights.


Hannah Arendt, Paul Ricœur, Human Rights, Refugees, Power, Responsibility, Recognition

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2018 Hille Haker

License URL:

This journal is published by the University Library System, University of Pittsburgh as part of its D-Scribe Digital Publishing Program and is cosponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

ISSN 2156-7808 (online)