When humans become migrants

A blog containing Marie-Bénédicte Dembour's 30 episode podcast to support her book.

Episode two: What did the Convention say?

In this episode, I go back to the early history of human rights law in Europe in order to understand the foundations of the Strasbourg migrant case law.


The European Convention on Human Rights was created in 1950 in the aftermath of the horrors of World War II. It was a remarkable development in the history of human rights and aimed to protect all citizens in Europe from a new descent into dictatorship.

In the process, the question arose as to who should benefit from the protection of the Convention. In particular, those who negotiated the Convention addressed the question of whether foreigners should have the same rights as citizens. The answer they gave was that, in at least two respects – freedom of expression and association and immigration detention – “aliens” should not have exactly the same rights as “citizens”.

It is difficult to think that this fundamental assumption did not impact the development of the Strasbourg migrant case law.

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alienscitizenseuropean convention on human rightsitalian migrantsworld war two

Marie-Benedicte Dembour • January 19, 2015

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