Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Vincent Chetail and Céline Bauloz
Chapter 8: Migration and discrimination: Non-discrimination as guardian against arbitrariness or driver of integration?
Equality is without doubt one of the central principles of human rights law. Equality has been claimed to be 'the most important principle imbuing and inspiring the concept of human rights', along with liberty, the 'dominant and recurring theme of international human rights law', and 'one of the most frequently declared norms of international human rights law'. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has submitted that the principle of equality and non-discrimination is of a peremptory nature under general international law. There is a multiplicity of legal sources. Most United Nations (UN) core human rights treaties contain one or more provisions on equality or non-discrimination. Most of these provisions are of an accessory nature, that is, they guarantee non-discrimination with regard to the rights guaranteed in that particular treaty. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) contains an independent non-discrimination clause (Article 26). Two of the UN core human rights treaties are essentially non-discrimination treaties, i.e., the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Of particular relevance for migration are ICERD and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICRMW). Quite tellingly for the sensitivity of human rights for migrants, the latter is the least signed and ratified of all core UN human rights treaties.
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