Human Rights and Citizenship: The Case of Mexican Migrants in Canada (Working Paper #72)

Tanya Basok, University of Windsor

Abstract: According to several scholars, the emergence of supra-national human rights institutions have caused a fundamental shift from national citizenship (a nation-based notion of rights) to post-national citizenship )a more individual-based universal conception of rights based on an international human rights regime). The notion of “postnational citizenship” has been challenged by many researchers who have argued that universal principles of human rights cannot be implemented and enforced without the consent of nation-states. Although nation-states have demonstrated a certain degree of respect for universal principles, their commitment to the ideas of post-national citizenship are based on a conception of citizenship rooted in membership in a particular bound community. The two notions of citizenship–one linked to inclusive universal rights and the other to membership in an exclusive community–are at times contradictory. Using the case of Mexican migrants working in Canada, this presentation will emphasize the difference between rights as a set of principles and laws on the one hand, and their actual practice and implementation on the other. Basok will argue that whereas legal access to economic rights has been extended to non-citizens residing in the national territory of sovereign nation-states, membership in the national community has often been denied to them, thus precluding them from exercising the rights to which they have been granted legal access.

Working Paper #72ยป