Reinventing the Triangle: Indispensable Relationship between States, Legal Status and ‘the Right to Have Rights’

Anna V. Dolidze, Cornell Law School, J.S.D. candidate


Based on the study of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights regarding claims by stateless persons, I argue that the relationship between states and rights has been reinvented: although international human rights law provides opportunity for persons without citizenship to assert their human rights, States continue to hold a firm grip on defining legal status of persons without which defense of human rights is impossible. This thesis runs counter to arguments of scholars like Hannah Arendt, Giorgio Agamben and Seyla Benhabib, who assert that possession of citizenship is a necessary prerequisite for having human rights. It also runs contrary to arguments by those, like Yasemin Soysal who maintain that international human rights have eroded the monopoly of States on defining the legal status of individuals.