Migration, International Telecommunications, and Human Rights1

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Abstract

World polity embeddedness has traditionally been measured by state and civil participation in formal venues, including international organizations, multilateral agreements, and world conferences. In this study, we highlight an alternative form of embeddedness found in cross-national social relations and apply this framework to the human rights sector of the world polity. Specifically, we propose that the international migrant community diffuses human rights values and practices via (1) local performance and (2) cross-national communication. Using data from the World Values Survey, we first show that immigrants are more likely to embrace, and actively participate in, the human rights movement. Next, using network data that report country-to-country bilateral flows, we observe a high degree of correspondence between international migration and telecommunications, confirming previous studies that trace telephone traffic to the flow of people. Finally, analyzing a balanced data set of 333 observations across 111 countries spanning the 1975–2000 period, we use ordered probit regression to assess the local and cross-national effects of migrants on a state's human rights record. We find that a country's immigration level and its in-degree centrality in international telecommunications both positively affect its Amnesty International rating, and that these effects are robust to a number of alternative specifications.

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