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Frank Michelman, Parsing "A Right To Have Rights", 3 Constellations 200 (1996).

Abstract: Argues that Hannah Arendt’s (1967 [1951]) claim that human beings have the right to have rights ought not to be read as the contention that there exists a universal abstract moral human right of state membership that compels states to afford individuals’ basic rights. Such a reading implies that there are two fields of rights, the moral & the empirical, a position that does not square with Arendt’s description of rights as inherently substantive & deriving from an individual’s participation in the social production of a moral consciousness. For Arendt, the attainment of rights can only be based on contributions by actions to the production of those rights. However, this leads her into a paradox: for those who have not participated in the production of such rights, ie, refugees, there can be no basis for claiming that they have a right to have rights. Only by describing the right to have rights on a different moral plane as the substantive production of rights can Arendt move beyond this paradox, a move explicitly declined in her description of rights as wholly substantive.