The detention of migrants and asylum seekers is drawing the attention and resources of entities from all facets of contemporary society and resulting in the creation of new forms of collaboration between state and non-state actors. However, this type of detention has become the target of criticism from experts, who argue that those involved in the treatment of detainees fail to abide by established international norms. As much of the international community focuses on developing ways to ‘govern’ migration, the issue of the legality of migration detention remains largely overlooked. What are the key norms on the treatment of detainees? And how can academics and practitioners measure adherence to these evolving norms? To address these questions, the Graduate Institute’s Program for the Study of Global Migration proposes a multi-phase initiative that combines legal analysis with social scientific data generating methods to develop a method for measuring the construction and state adherence to key norms.