States, Migrants, and Rights

States, Migrants, and Rights

This blog post is based on a guest lecture delivered at UWE Bristol’s Politics and IR seminar series entitled: ‘The “new” politics of expulsion: a constitutive approach.’ For a long time now, the EU has sought extensive cooperation, both internally and externally, on the management of migration. Scholars and activist observers of the processes by

logoThis blog post is based on a guest lecture delivered at UWE Bristol’s Politics and IR seminar series entitled: ‘The “new” politics of expulsion: a constitutive approach.’

For a long time now, the EU has sought extensive cooperation, both internally and externally, on the management of migration. Scholars and activist observers of the processes by which cooperation has been institutionalised have frequently pointed to the ways in which these have denigrated individual rights. And yet many International Relations theorists assume that inter-state cooperation tends to bind state into agreements which restrain sovereign power and advance individual rights.

Attention to EU cooperation on migration clearly demonstrates the extent to which longstanding norms of individual rights can be substantially re-made (and restricted) through the institutionalisation of sovereign interests in exclusion. In short, there is no reason to expect good things from ‘norm-governed behaviour’ in international relations.

Construction and map of EuropeLet’s consider, then, the effects that EU cooperation on migration has on international norms regarding the meaning and scope of the link between citizen and state. It has been argued that the move towards more permanent and meaningful links between the citizen and the state served an emerging sovereign interest in the exclusion of unwanted persons. The individual’s right to reside permanently in his or her own state has always been closely related to the state’s right to exclude, then deport, non-citizens. Deportability is an important aspect of the international constitution of the citizen-state link.

For sixty-odd years, however, refugees have been a formalised exception to the rule that individuals are deportable to their country of origin. In spite of all the challenges of refugee protection, the ban on returning a refugee to a territory where his or her life or freedom would be threatened has served as an acknowledgement of the possible dangers of the citizen-state link, and is part of the wider meaning of citizen-state links in international relations.

Today, refugees are increasingly at risk in the context of a European approach to migration which has once again made refugees deportable. Beyond Europe, NGOs have warned that attempts to open up discussions on the refugee-definition would be likely to lead to an even tighter, more restrictive understanding. Even with the 1951 Refugee Convention in the background, EU policy on readmission now tends to assume that would-be refugees’ countries of origin are safe to return to in spite of evidence to the contrary, and seeks explicitly the readmission of refugees to those countries of origin, and/or third countries on that basis. This has negative implications not just for individual refugees (though these are very worrying), but also for the way that individuality more generally is constituted by states, regional bodies and international bodies, and the policies and practices of these actors.

Today, then, normative expectations about the proper link between citizens and states are being reconstituted in two clear ways: 1. The acknowledgement of the dangers of states’ exclusive control over their citizens is being restricted or withdrawn 2. Unilateral declarations on the responsibility of third states for noncitizens are being operationalised. The result is a much degraded normative framework of individual personhood, which points to a tendency of inter-state recognition to challenge ostensibly universal individual rights.

Please follow and like us:


  • The Rising influence of Chinese Social Media 16th Jan 2019 image from article source: People Can Say ‘No’: The Rising influence of Chinese Social Media It is worth noting that with the wider use of internet and social media, the social media and its users obtain stronger influence in China, both domestically and internationally. The Chinese social media users, especially the young generation […]
  • Metzgar paper published by USC Center on Public Diplomacy 16th Jan 2019 Associate professor Emily Metzgar (Maggie Richards | The Media School) A paper by associate professor Emily Metzgar published by the USC Center on Public diplomacy [JB emphasis] analyzes the United States’ seven-decade history of government-sponsored international broadcasting.“Seventy Years of the Smith-Mundt Act and U.S. International Broadcasting: Back to the Future?” finds that while the […]
  • The ‘dark side’ of digital diplomacy: countering disinformation and propaganda 16th Jan 2019 image (not from article) from Corneliu Bjola | Head of the Oxford Digital Diplomacy Research Group (#DigDiploROx) | @CBjola Excerpt: Theme The ‘dark side’ of digital diplomacy, that is, the strategic use of digital technologies as tools to counter disinformation and propaganda by governments and non-state actors has exploded in the recent years thus […]
  • State Department’s Integrated Country Strategy for Greece published 16th Jan 2019
    E.Tsiliopoulos, uncaptioned image from entry The State Department’s Integrated Country Strategy (ICS) for Greece recognizing the country’s position in the Eastern Mediterranean as being of key importance to US national security and energy priorities. Excerpt: Below is the full report: ... To combat attempts to destabilize the region, Mission Greece will support democratic institutions, […]
  • A Year in Review: Azerbaijan Optimizes Its Balanced Foreign Policy in 2018 16th Jan 2019
    Rahim Rahimov,, January 15, 2019 Image (not from article) fromExcerpt: Russia has pursued its own active official and public diplomacy [JB emphasis] with Azerbaijan. Bilateral relations seem to be warming significantly, with the two countries’ presidents having met six times in 2018, including two official reciprocal visits (see EDM September 18, October 24, 2018). […]

RSS Diplo Portal Belgrade

Most Viewed Posts

  • Twitter Suspends Hamas Accounts (968)
    By ROBERT MACKEYLast Updated, Sunday, Jan. 19 | Several Twitter accounts used by the military wing of Hamas have been suspended by the social network in recent days, angering the Islamist militants and delighting Israel’s military. #Twitter has suspended the official account of #Hamas, a terrorist group that uses social media to threaten #Israel
  • Brain drain in Serbia today (271)
    How does the Serbian government cope with the problem of brain drain today? The latest OECD publication, SOPEMI 2014 shows that 39 thousand persons emigrated in 2012 from Serbia to OECD countries only. (At the beginning of the global economic and financial crisis, the emigration from Serbia to OECD countries amounted to 27,000 in 2008.)
  • Humanitarian Intervention: Advantages and Disadvantages in East Timor and Kosovo (262)
    Have There Been Occasions on Which the Advantages of Humanitarian Intervention Using Armed Force have Outweighed the Disadvantages? Humanitarian intervention can be defined as the attempts of a foreign state to prevent violations of human rights in another state, often through the use of armed force. The use of armed force to protect human rights,

How Belgrade based diplomats use Digital Diplomacy and Internet 2016

Diplo Portal Belgrade

Please follow and like us:
Scroll Up

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)