Former Ambassador to UN: US Has ‘No Obligation’ to Accept Syrian Refugees

Barbara Hollingsworth | November 16, 2015 | 4:02pm EST
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(U.S. State Department)

( – John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said Sunday that the U.S. has “no obligation” to accept Syrian refugees.

“We have no obligation to bring them into this country,” Bolton told Fox News’ Justice host Jeanine Pirro.

He added that the U.S. can refuse to allow Syrian refugees entry “without in any way violating our humanitarian obligations.”

Bolton also dismissed White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes’ statement Sunday that the refugees are being vetted in Iraq before they are brought to the U.S.

“I don’t know who else believes this other than the White House,” Bolton said in response to Rhodes’ assertion that the U.S. has “very robust vetting procedures for those refugees.”

The former ambassador to the U.N. pointed out that “there are international conventions on how to handle massive numbers of refugees” from war-torn areas, adding that “this system has completely broken down.”

The U.N.’s 1951 Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, which was amended in 1967, defines a refugee as “someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.”

The convention affirms the right of such refugees “to seek asylum from persecution.” But Bolton noted that many of the refugees flooding into Europe “are not even from Syria.”

Even if all of the refugees could prove they had no connections with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the signers of the convention are not required to offer them asylum in their own countries.

“The refugee convention imposes on the country of first asylum an obligation to provide food, shelter, sanitation, and medicine in refugee camps” with the main goal of repatriating them back to their country of origin as soon as possible, Bolton stated, adding that the U.S. should assist in this effort.

The former ambassador acknowledged that living in a refugee camp is not ideal, but said that the camps were “better than being in a war zone.” They also made it easier to achieve the ultimate goal of repatriation.

“Resettlement is considered only when there is no chance of successful repatriation,” Bolton pointed out.



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