Searching for background info for a forthcoming post on a boring topic that should be forgotten, I found the research of Michael Curtotti, and was tickled to find he also has papers on human rights and freedom of movement, and runs a website called abolishforeignness.org.
I’ve only read the oldest (2002) paper so far, Barriers to International Freedom of Movement: A Lacuna in International Human Rights Law?, and recommend it. The gap is real, and huge. A large proportion of humanity is excluded from escaping poverty and oppression. Curtotti quotes a book on my to-read list, Closed Borders: The Contemporary Assault on Freedom of Movement:
The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries represent the closest approximation to an open world in modern times. … With immigration restrictions at a minimum, real freedom of international movement was a fact. The right of personal self-determination was reasonably secure for residents of Europe and the Americas, if not for other peoples ruled by them. Passports, which had fallen into disuse in much of the West, were required only in the Ottoman Empire, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria and Bosnia/Herzegovina.
Why were borders then closed? In part Curtotti writes:
The growing influence on public policy of racist ideologies seeking to promote racially segregated national communities – including by excluding all regarded as incompatible with the prevailing racially defined national character.
All the more ironic:
We may note also further explicit and implicit reservation of state freedom in regard of freedom of movement and citizenship. The International Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination provides that the Convention does not prohibit discrimination between citizens and non-citizens. Further matters of citizenship, nationalisation or naturalisation remain at the free discretion of the state (subject to the requirement of non-discrimination between non-citizens) (art 1.2, 1.3). This is of course an extraordinary provision in such a Convention. It suggests that a state has virtually no obligations of “non-discrimination” to persons outside the legal and geographical boundaries of the state – notwithstanding the correlation between race and nationality, the fact that historically many states have racially discriminated to influence their ethnic composition and that the very idea of the nation-state is strongly linked to the idea of race and ethnicity. The explicit inclusion of such exemptions of course merely serves to underline that the drafters were well aware of the correlation between race and citizenship. Discrimination against foreigners is given international legal sanction by this Convention.
Curtotti concludes noting the tension between state prerogative and the universality of human rights, and that discussion, then recognition of freedom of movement as a fundamental human right, rather than an glaring exception, can be the beginning of a very long process of rights implementation.
I hope to soon read and review the rest of Curtotti’s papers, and everything on abolishforeignness.org. As noted a few months ago, I also want to read and review all of openborders.info. It appears these two group sites come from different perspectives: Open Borders, libertarian/negative rights/economics; Abolish Foreignness, progressive/positive rights/humanitarian. That’s good: all sorts of arguments are needed to abolish the monster of international apartheid.
Speaking of which, I am mildly tickled to see that the authors of the Manifesto for the Abolition of International Apartheid use the CC0 public domain dedication.