Immigration and International Human Rights Law: Mutually Exclusive or Overlapping Issues?

khaliqProfessor Urfan Khaliq, Module Convenor for International protection of human rights, comments on Immigration and International Human Rights Law.

Immigration is currently one of the most contested political issues. To take three examples. The current Republican candidate for President in the USA, Donald Trump, seeks to blame much of the ills and crimes in the USA on those who have come from Mexico; hence he seeks to build a wall to keep them out. Equally he wishes to impose a ban on all ‘Muslims’ from entering the USA. In Britain, the 2016 vote about future membership of the European Union became for many about the fact that they felt there had been too much immigration. A nationwide discussion about membership of an ‘economic and political union’ became about ‘others’ and by a slim majority the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU. In Pakistan, there has long been a debate about Afghani refugees and their return to Afghanistan now that the US led invasion of that country is over. Many Afghanis and their families, however, have been in Pakistan for over 30 years since the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan at the very end of the 1970s. They are far from the source of many problems afflicting that country but are a convenient scapegoat. These examples illustrate that those seeking to enter a country for whatever reason; be it to escape persecution, fleeing a conflict or simply wanting a better life are the continued focus of governments and the population at large in a very significant number of States. blogMigration is a natural consequence of human existence. But the modern State system seeks to limit who can enter a State thus keeping ‘undesirables’ out. Even when States permit non-nationals to enter; they may wish to restrict what the migrants can and cannot do. It should not be forgotten that the nexus in international law is between the State and its citizen and that is the basis for modern international human rights law.  But what of migrants and their rights in other States?

The full text of this blog seeks to examine, in the contemporary context, some often overlooked connections between migration and human rights. It does so by taking a broad and historical perspective; so to highlight the fact that mass movements of populations are nothing new. Equally it wishes to show that whereas in the past the ‘other’ was provided with no protection, international law does now play a role – albeit one which is piecemeal and still limited.

Read Professor Khaliq’s full discussion of the case here.



  1. Hi, can I have access to the blog post that was posted on the Rohingya crisis recently? Thank you

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