Migrant rights initiative

Migrant Rights Database

Policy makers and activists are pursuing a global standard for migration governance and the protection of migrant rights. However, there remains a paucity of data about the baseline of international legal standards and the extent to which this baseline is reflected in the national legal frameworks of different destination states. The Migrant Rights Database applies a novel instrument to create an objective, cross-national accounting of the laws protecting migrant rights enshrined in national legal frameworks. The database permits aggregation, disaggregation, and an objective system of benchmarking—all contained in an efficient coding instrument that can be applied cross-nationally and over time. In this study, we apply the database’s 65 binary indicators to five principal destination states—Germany, Mexico, the Russian Federation, South Africa, and Turkey. The results validate the design of the questionnaire and reveal variation within and across the selected countries—the principal goals of the pilot study. The analysis of these results may be deepened and will hold more weight once they can be contextualized for a broader range of destination countries.


The Migrant Rights Initiative conducts cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research on the human rights of migrants and then fosters opportunities for innovative action that reshapes the way governments treat people who cross international borders. Our Migrant Rights Database (MRD) evaluates how countries protect and implement 17 categories of rights according to 65 standardized indicators, based on the Initiative’s International Migrants Bill of Rights (IMBR).

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