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 10: Diplomatic protection and consular assistance of migrants

Annemarieke Vermeer-Künzli


International law has long recognized the right of States to protect their nationals abroad. Migrants often experience a considerable disadvantage vis-à-vis the national local population in terms of legal protection offered by the local authorities, which has justified support from their State of nationality against the State of residence. This may even apply to permanent migrants. As example may serve the persistent reports of treatment of foreign household staff in Middle Eastern countries of Asian origin, which clearly demonstrates that such migrants often are in need of protection of their State of nationality, lacking other means to protect themselves against abuses. Most common is the absence of the right to vote. Although this may not seem of paramount importance, for instance in comparison to the prohibition on torture, it does mean that foreigners cannot exercise a meaningful influence on the government of the receiving State and that political parties will not seek their political support. There are basically two ways in which States can protect and assist their nationals: through diplomatic protection and consular assistance. This Chapter will discuss these two means for the protection of nationals abroad in turn. First, however, it is necessary to distinguish diplomatic protection and consular assistance. Diplomatic protection is a mechanism allowing States to invoke the responsibility of the receiving State for injury to their nationals resulting from a violation of a rule of international law. It is thus a part of the law on state responsibility.

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