Immigration Policy: Between Demographic Considerations and Preservation of Culture

Law and Ethics of Human Rights 2 (1):1-29 (2008)
Cultural rights of minority groups are recognized in international human rights law. These rights include the right of minority groups to adopt various measures to protect their cultural identity, which may include closure of the group’s community from outsiders. The state in which such groups reside has a concurrent duty to respect these rights and sometimes even to take positive measures to ensure their implementation. The consideration of demographic factors, then, is regarded as legitimate when designed to protect minority groups. The rights of majority groups, on the other hand, are often ensured by the mere fact that they constitute a majority within the state and as such do not require special measures. This state of affairs is challenged, however, in face of mass immigration that could change the relation existing between majority and minority groups within the state. Under these circumstances, does a majority have the right to preserve its own culture through an immigration policy that takes into account demographic factors? I argue that the duty of states under international human rights law to protect rights of minority groups might serve as an incentive to restrict immigration endangering the character of the state. This character—the state’s public culture—is the outcome of collective preferences of the majority of its citizens, which is assumed ought to be respected
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DOI 10.2202/1938-2545.1025
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