Human rights are intended to be applicable to all individuals; however, those without citizenship privileges, such as migrants and refugees, often cannot access human rights. This research asks what institutional schema is most effective at protecting and promoting human rights, particularly with respect to marginalized non-citizen populations. Due to the somewhat insular nature of human rights scholarship, the question requires an interdisciplinary approach that draws upon multiple academic fields. The project’s methodology therefore consisted in investigating and drawing discursive connections between literatures from international relations, sociology, philosophy, and history. The results of the research are twofold. First, despite its popular usage, national citizenship is not an adequate structure for the implementation of human rights. The first finding leads to the second, which is that a “critical” cosmopolitan institutional arrangement is a more promising strategy for the equal extension and protection of human rights. Further research will examine concrete possibilities and policy recommendations for operationalizing a cosmopolitan institutional framework.