Research Handbook on International Law and Migration
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Research Handbook on International Law and Migration

Edited by Vincent Chetail and Céline Bauloz

Migration is a complex and multifaceted issue, and the current legal framework suffers from considerable ambiguity and lack of cohesive focus. This Handbook offers a comprehensive take on the intersection of law and migration studies and provides strategies for better understanding the potential of international legal norms in regulating migration. Authoritative analyses by the most renowned and knowledgeable experts in the field focus on important migration issues and challenge the current normative framework with new ways of thinking about the topic.
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Chapter 9: Minority and cultural rights of migrants

Helen O'Nions


The application of minority rights to non-nationals is a problematic area in international law. Many Europeans continue to express the view that globalization and migration has damaged their national culture and a significant minority rejects the view that there is value in a multi-ethnic society. These are unique times for non-nationals in Europe. We have seen a galvanizing of national identity as a consequence of both economic austerity and the political events in Northern Africa and the middle-East, including the 'war on terror' and the accompanying rise of security rhetoric in Western politics. The erosion of certain religious rights has been justified with reference to democratic values which appear predicated on secularism rather than diversity. Cultural and minority rights are often presented as part of the problem. Yet, as Nimni contends 'the recognition of the collective right to take part in cultural life is not only a vital human need, but a sine qua non step for the integration of national and ethnic minorities in multicultural states'. In principle the universal application of human rights norms makes no distinction between nationals and non-nationals, yet the State's right to control its borders as a matter of territorial integrity readily divides those that belong from those that do not. Secure borders are seen as essential to preserve national identity which itself is built on a perception of common origins and values which, to some extent, depend on a favourable comparison with the non-national.

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