'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

See all articles by Tom K. Wong

Tom K. Wong

University of California, Riverside (UCR)

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

Suggested Citation

Wong, Tom K., 'Human Rights in the Age of Migration: An Empirical Analysis of the Human Rights of Noncitizens' (May 11, 2010). Western Political Science Association 2010 Annual Meeting Paper , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1580442

Tom K. Wong (Contact Author)

University of California, Riverside (UCR) ( email )

900 University Avenue
Riverside, CA 92521
United States

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