'Human Rights in the Age of Migration: An Empirical Analysis of the Human Rights of Noncitizens'
31 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2010 Last revised: 12 Jun 2013
Date Written: May 11, 2010
Human rights are predicated on one’s status as a human being rather than on one’s membership or political status in any nation-state. Increasingly restrictive immigration control policies and the harsh treatment of irregular migrants and other noncitizens have, however, revealed what some have referred to as a “crisis of human rights,” wherein human rights are administered exclusively as the rights of citizens to the exclusion of others. This paper provides empirical evidence of this citizenship gap by examining the ratification of international human rights treaties that require state parties to extend basic human rights protections to noncitizens across 160 countries from 1990-2008. The data indicate that as the number of foreign-born persons in a country increases the likelihood of ratification decreases significantly. Moreover, despite their otherwise strong commitments to human rights, democracies are not more likely to ratify than non-democracies. In fact, the results indicate that the more democratic a country is the less likely it is to ratify. Thus, while there is an extensive and growing literature on the widening reach of human rights protections and discourse, it seems that in our current era of globalization, irregular migrants and other noncitizens are at the margins of this discussion, if not altogether excluded from it.
Keywords: Human Rights, Citizenship Gap, International Migration, Rights of Noncitizens
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