Original Research

International migration: The state-sovereignty-migration nexus

D. Chigudu
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 11, No 4 | a39 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v11i4.39 | © 2015 D. Chigudu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 February 2016 | Published: 31 December 2015

About the author(s)

D. Chigudu, Department of Public Administration & Management, University of South Africa, Unisa, South Africa

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Commonly, international human migration is blamed for corroding states sovereignty, especially stemming from policy circles, academic literature and citizens of the host countries. This has attracted the attention of the media highlighting hazards of being a migrant, with some countries viewing migrants as enemies; and, Cuba provides a vivid case. Yet in other countries, migrants are viewed as important contributors to social and economic development, with Mexico, the Dominican Republic and India serving as examples. This article locates migrants in the framework of human rights as guided by international law without prejudice to the demands of state sovereignty, but linking the two in the context of developing international standards. Migration is seen as a feature of human history dating back to primordial time. Nothing appears surprising in the movement of people across borders, defining a migrant through emigration and immigration while giving due respect to the sovereignty of states, both sending and receiving. The article discusses the nexus between migrants and state sovereignty in order to highlight the mutual benefit grounded in international law. It attempts to portray a more positive image of the migrant person in light of the global world, socio-economic development and human rights fundamentals. The main challenge remains that of implementing human rights, which appear to be at the crossroads of individual rights and state sovereignty. The paper reveals how the challenge can be overcome while maintaining the structure of rights and freedoms without infringement on states’ sovereignty. It concludes that migrants remain on the periphery of effective protection from the vagaries of the citizens, partly because the state has a tendency to confine certain rights to its citizenry. States possess discretionary authority to control the ingress of foreign nationals into their territories though sometimes they fail to do that as evidenced by hundreds of millions of irregular migrants around the world. The paper reveals that, the symbiotic relationship between migrants, regular or irregular, and state sovereignty should be strengthened.


state sovereignty; migration; migrant; rights


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