Human Rights and Migration: The Missing Link

Author: Bimal Ghosh
Partners: Cees Flinterman, Morten Kjaerum, Khalid Koser, Theo van Boven, Stefanie Grant

Publication date: 2006


Protection of migrants’ human rights and effective management of migration (in the sense of ensuring that the movements of persons are orderly and predictable and, therefore, more manageable) are closely interrelated. However, existing literature on migration and human rights, though voluminous, has rarely endeavoured to bring this nexus into sharper focus. Policy making in the two areas has also remained largely peripheral to each other. Despite fledgling signs of a change, coalition between human rights organisations and migrants’ associations has continued to be weak.

This paper argues that the crucial nexus between human rights and migration constitutes the core of a commonalty of interests between those who are anxious to defend human rights and those concerned with better management of the movement of people. Nation States have an abiding interest and inherent stake in protecting the basic rights of their own citizens even when they are abroad. This calls for close inter-state reciprocity and co-operation. Protecting these rights also assists Nation States in fulfilling their obligations in other vital areas of their responsibility.

This paper concludes by suggesting that a better understanding of these relationships could lay the basis for a rich and proactive common agenda to which the State, human rights organisations and migrants’ associations can all creatively contribute, while advancing, and remaining faithful to their own vocations. As well as bringing migrants’ basic rights into the mainstream of the human rights movement, it would lend new vitality and dynamism to the movement itself.

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