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African Migration, Global Inequalities, and Human Rights:
Connecting the Dots

William Minter

Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, Uppsala, 2011

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As noted above, in the section on East and Central Africa, even in the case of refugees, those migrants with rights most clearly defined by international agreements, implementation of those rights is highly inconsistent. In some cases, such as the "warehousing" of refugees in long-term camps, such violations are institutionalized and hardly noted. Similarly, the rights of migrants more generally, even when established by international or national law, are often ignored in practice and have little public recognition. The legitimacy of a hierarchical rights regime, privileging first citizens, then residents with regular documentation, and last of all irregular migrants, is rarely questioned. In recent years, notes the UN's Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants (UN 2010), the trend towards "criminalization of migration" has led to increasing abuses of human rights.

The gap between stated principles and practice, together with the relatively low level of international attention given to violation of migrants' rights, make it important not only to consider the legal frameworks in place but also the underlying assumptions and climate of opinion that affect the prospects for change. This section first considers the Convention of the Rights of Migrants, which entered into force in 2003 but which almost no major immigrant-receiving country has adopted. This is followed by a brief discussion of universal human rights instruments that, for the most part, apply to migrants as well as citizens of a country, of the threats posed by anti-immigrant sentiment and xenophobic actions, and of the ambivalent character of government migration policies. Finally, this section looks at the less-well-defined issue of the right to migrate.

Convention on the Rights of Migrants

The United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (commonly referred to as the Convention on the Rights of Migrants) was approved by the United Nations General Assembly over two decades ago, in 1990. In 2003, it achieved the minimum number of ratifications to enter into force. But as of 2010, there were only 44 states that had become full parties to the convention, and 15 that had signed but not yet ratified it.

The 59 states include only 4 in Europe (all small Balkan states and no members of the European Union). Other major immigration countries, such as Canada, United States, Australia, and the Gulf Cooperation Council states, have also not signed. African states, but not including South Africa, Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, or Tanzania, account for 27 of the 59 states; 14 are in West Africa, the


region with the most open migration regime.39 Among African states with a significant influx of migrants, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, and Morocco, all of which also have significant flows of emigration, are parties to the treaty. But it is not at all clear that these countries have considered it applicable to immigrants to their countries as well as their own emigrants.

In principle, the Convention does not establish new rights, but spells out in greater detail the procedures for ensuring basic human rights that are established for all by the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and other core human rights treaties (UNDP 2009: 99-102; The Convention, however, has stronger provisions for non-discrimination than other more general treaties, spelling out protections that apply to all migrant workers, independent of regular or irregular status, as well as additional rights that apply to migrant workers with regular status.

Such core human rights as the rights to life, to freedom of expression, to security of person and due process, and to education, for example, are not limited by migrant status (see statement by Global Migration Group in box below). The Convention spells out other rights as, for example, the right to consular representation, the right to equal access to participation in trade unions, and the right to emergency medical care. While the Convention does not explicitly guarantee the right to family unification, it does include a provision encouraging states to facilitate family unification.

In 1998 United Nations agencies, trade unions, migrants' organizations, and other civil society groups including Human Rights Watch and the World Council of Churches jointly launched a Global Campaign for Ratification of the Convention.40 This campaign deserves support, not least as a vehicle for encouraging wider attention to migrants' rights. But, given that the majority of rights included are already mandated by other treaties or even by national law and, even so, are frequently violated, groups concerned with migrants' rights should give even greater priority to effective measures to defend those rights which are already established in principle.

Universal Human Rights

The Bill of Rights in the South African Constitution opens with the statement that it "enshrines the rights of all people in our country." In the following clauses, with the exception of rights specifically referring to citizens, such as section 19 on political rights, the rights included—ranging from the right to life and

39. For a current list of signatories, consult the UN treaty database at In Southern Africa only Lesotho is a party to the convention.

40. For more information on the ratification campaign, see and


the security of the person to adequate housing, health care, and education—are extended to "everyone." "Every worker" has the right to join a trade union. The application of many of these rights to non-citizens has been confirmed in a series of court cases (Manby 2009: 149).

Similarly, the core international human rights treaties include migrants. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." Article 2 adds that "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights contain similar language.

In South Africa, as likely in many other countries,41 much of the public does not agree with these provisions, even if they are enshrined into law. In a 2006 survey (Crush 2008:28), for example, 29% of respondents said that migrants should not have the right to legal protection, 17% that they should not have the right to police protection, and 19% that they should not have access to social services. Even larger percentages (67% for legal protection, 65% for police protection, and 68% for access to social services) said that "illegal immigrants" should not have such rights.

As noted by the Global Migration Group42 in a recent statement (see box), the protection of irregular migrants from rights abuses is a state responsibility which should not be trumped by other concerns. Yet such abuses worldwide are driven not only by anti-immigrant public opinion but also by the push by state authorities towards more restrictive immigration controls and what UN Special Rapporteur Jorge Bustamente terms the increasing "criminalization" of irregular migration (UN 2010). Undocumented migrants are widely stereotyped as potential criminals or terrorists. And through profiling the same stereotypes are applied as well to documented immigrants and ethnic groups associated with immigrant populations.

Elaborating the dangers of further criminalization of irregular migration, Bustamente's 2010 report notes that this trend, earlier identified in his 2008 report, continues. Human rights have not been integrated into migration management policies, which have overemphasized law enforcement measures. Criminal penalties for violations of immigration law, which are victimless crimes, are not

41. Despite the availability of some comparative public opinion data (see Crush and Ramachandran 2009: 7; Kleemans and Klugman 2009), the questions available in other countries are not as specific about rights as those in the South African survey.

42. The Global Migration Group earlier published a systematic report on the relationship between international migration and human rights (Global Migration Group 2008). See also Grant 2005.


Statement of the Global Migration Group* on the Human Rights of Migrants in Irregular Situation


30 September 2010

• The Global Migration Group (GMG) is an inter-agency group bringing together 14 agencies (12 United Nations agencies, the World Bank, and the International Organization for Migration) to promote the application of relevant international instruments and norms relating to migration, and to encourage the adoption of more coherent, comprehensive and better coordinated approaches to the issue of international migration.

http ://www.globalmigrationgroup .org

Migrants in an irregular situation are more likely to face discrimination, exclusion, exploitation and abuse at all stages of the migration process. ...

Too often, States have addressed irregular migration solely through the lens of sovereignty, border security or law enforcement, sometimes driven by hostile domestic constituencies. Although States have legitimate interests in securing their borders and exercising immigration controls, such concerns cannot, and indeed, as a matter of international law do not, trump the obligations of the State to respect the internationally guaranteed rights of all persons, to protect those rights against abuses, and to fulfil the rights necessary for them to enjoy a life of dignity and security.

The fundamental rights of all persons, regardless of their migration status, include:

• The right to life, liberty and security of the person and to be free from arbitrary arrest or detention, and the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution;

• The right to be free from discrimination based on race, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, or other status;

• The right to be protected from abuse and exploitation, to be free from slavery, and from involuntary servitude, and to be free from torture and from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

• The right to a fair trial and to legal redress;

• The right to protection of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to health, an adequate standard of living, social security, adequate housing, education, and just and favourable conditions of work.

Protecting these rights is not only a legal obligation; it is also a matter of public interest and intrinsically linked to human development.

The irregular situation which international migrants may find themselves in should not deprive them either of their humanity or of their rights. As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights."


only inappropriate. They are ineffective in making migration or the destination society more secure, and foster a climate conducive to human rights abuses. Immigration detention is particularly subject to such abuse, as is the use of deportation procedures which do not respect due process.

This emerging consensus among international agencies on the necessity to "mainstream" human rights standards into migration management is a welcome development. Implementation of such policies, however, will depend primarily on national and local efforts. Measures to counter anti-migrant opinion and actions are likely to be ineffective unless they go hand in hand with public advocacy for alternate inclusive views and policies.

Anti-Migrant Attitudes, Discrimination, and Violence

Despite rising attention in public debate and by researchers to anti-migrant attitudes, discrimination, and violence—in their extreme forms often labelled with the term "xenophobia"—there is little consensus on what are the most important causes or the most effective remedies. The term xenophobia itself, and other labels such as "exclusionary nationalism," do not have agreed definitions. Surveys designed to measure such attitudes use different questions, making comparisons difficult.43

Nevertheless, there are a number of general observations that seem justified by the evidence:

• World-wide anti-immigrant and anti-immigration attitudes are significant, but most generally in the minority. In the World Values survey for 2005/2006, for example, 20% of respondents said that ethnic diversity compromises a country's unity, about 25% said they would object to living next to a migrant. In the same survey, 11% said that people should be prohibited from coming as immigrants, while another 38% said there should be strict limits on immigration.

• Trends in recent years, with data available particularly for Western Europe, tend to show increasing or stable levels of hostile attitudes to immigrants, accompanied by more restrictive immigration policies (Ceobanau and Es-candell 2010: 311—313). While there is no comparable comparative evidence available from other regions, anti-migrant attitudes and actions characterized as xenophobia have been noted from countries as varied as South Africa, India, Malaysia, Libya, and Thailand (Crush and Ramachandran 2009).

• The determinants of anti-immigrant attitudes are complex. Reviewing evidence on micro-level determinants, Ceobanu and Escandell (2010) cite find-

43. For a recent comprehensive survey of research on public attitudes on immigrants and immigration, see Ceobanu and Escandell (2010). The most extensive data available is for Western European countries. See also the wide array of survey questions in Transatlantic Trends (2010) which includes the United States, Canada, and six European countries.


ings suggesting individual-level links from lower education and labor-force status to more hostile attitudes,44 as well as from perceptions of threat and from right-wing ideological views. At the level of contextual determinants, they cite the effects of economic conditions and of the visibility of an immigrant group in a particular area, connected not so much with size as with abrupt increases in immigration into the area.

• Whether or not anti-immigrant attitudes are also accompanied by systematic discrimination and/or outbreaks of overt violence depends largely on the cues given by national and local government officials and other political forces, as well as the media and civil society. National and local governments can contribute to such hostile attitudes and actions not only by instigating them but also by failure to anticipate, acknowledge, or take efforts to control them.

• Anti-immigrant attitudes and actions are rarely if ever directed against all immigrants as such, but differ significantly by other criteria, although such distinctions are only rarely incorporated in opinion surveys, particularly surveys with a cross-national scope. These include distinctions between regular and irregular immigrants, as well as between skilled and unskilled immigrants. They also track existing racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious hierarchies, both within-nation hierarchies and those associated with the histories of global inequality.

It is clear that how African immigrants fit with these intersections of race, religion, and internal ethnic divisions differs significantly not only by world region but by country, and, indeed, by local areas within countries. This requires nu-anced exploration of particular national contexts, a task beyond the scope of this general review. One can note briefly, however, some elements which seem to be common to at least some multi-country groups.

In each context, African immigrants are commonly perceived within the context of stereotypes applicable to immigrants and minority ethnic groups more generally. Thus, in Western Europe, where most African migrants are from North Africa, stereotypes and discrimination are most often discussed in reference to the category of "Muslims," although, depending on the national context, Muslims may also include larger numbers of Turks or Pakistanis than North Africans. In the post-9/11 context, this religious identity is also associated with suspicions of Islamic extremism and terrorism, even though those involved are very small minorities among the Muslim population. For sub-Saharan African immigrants, anywhere in the world, race is both the dominant visible characteristic and the occasion for deep-rooted stereotypes and prejudices based on centuries

44. Ceobanu and Escandell's review, however, is almost entirely limited to developed countries. It does not consider evidence from South Africa, discussed above, which shows no or small differences for these social background variable.


of global racism. Some national groups, such as Somalis, have the distinction of being subject to both religious and racial grounds for discrimination.

But different national contexts shape the intersection of religion and race with immigrant status in very different ways. In the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, for example, sub-Saharan African immigrants are part of larger "black" populations, and that status is often more relevant to prejudice and discrimination against them than their immigrant status. But in the United States, anti-immigrant sentiment is linked primarily to the largest group of unskilled immigrants, those from Latin America. In both North America and Europe, Muslim citizens and immigrants form very internally diverse populations, but the "African" component of the Muslim population is prominent only in a few cases, such as North Africans in France or Somalis in both Europe and the United States.

Within Africa, in the very different contexts of Libya and South Africa, anti-immigrant attitudes and action particularly target black immigrants from other African countries, in contrast to those from other Arab countries (in Libya) or Western countries (in South Africa). Elsewhere on the continent, Zimbabwe has targeted both those of European descent and those with family origins in neighbouring African countries. In Cote d'lvoire, immigrant status and Muslim identity have been conflated in internal conflicts. And in a much wider set of African countries, descent from "foreign" ancestors, even several generations back, has served to identify people for discrimination, denial of citizenship, or expulsion.

Both outside Africa and within the continent, one common thread underlying the diverse and changing environment for immigrants and descendants of immigrants is how national identities and policies on citizenship and immigration are shaped both as inclusive and exclusive. In every case, the issue is not only how those with extreme views think and act as individuals, but also how governments routinely handle the issues of rights with respect to immigrants.

Governments and Migrants' Rights

Both nationality and citizenship45 imply exclusion as well as inclusion, simultaneously defining who is included and who is not. All nation-states today inherit complex amalgams of cultural and legal traditions defining these distinctions, based on the European "nation-state" concept and on the parallel evolution of "international" law.

Dating back to 19th century international debates, it is common to divide citizenship traditions into more exclusive ones based on the right of descent (jus

45. The two concepts are often used interchangeably, but here I distinguish nationality, referring to membership in a culturally defined "nation," and "citizenship," referring to membership defined by a state and conferring specific rights.


sanguinis), such as Germany, and those based on the right of birth in a country (jus soli), such as France, as well as the countries of European migration overseas. That distinction is in turn correlated and thematically linked with contrasting concepts of nation-states as based on traditional cultural units or on voluntary allegiance to a state.

Particularly in the new environment of increasing diversity and volume of international migration, such a binary distinction is far too simple for characterizing the realities in any country, although some East Asian countries still come close to the more exclusive model. In countries receiving African migrants, both on and outside the African continent, the mix of inclusive and exclusive elements is both complicated and changing. These include not only how the nation and citizenship are defined, but also such other factors such as de facto differences of access to rights among nominal citizens of a given country, the ease of acquiring citizenship, and the extent to which rights of non-citizens, both regular and irregular immigrants, are recognized. The last element is becoming increasingly important due to new emphasis on the role of universal human rights (see previous section).46

In traditional countries of immigration, such as the United States, Canada, and Australia, the general principle of "birthright citizenship" is well-established, despite recent calls from right-wing Republicans in the United States for its abolishment. The incorporation of immigrants through naturalization, moreover, is a well-defined process that is also celebrated as part of national identities. Yet these countries also have strong exclusionary strains linked to histories of race and conquest, which until recent decades were also reflected in immigration legislation. In the United States, since 1965, visas for immigration are no longer allocated by national origins. Nevertheless, the legacy of slavery and more than a century of unequal rights among nominal citizens is still manifest in today's patterns of inequality. African immigrants thus enter a society of de facto unequal rights, remedies for which are impeded by U.S. refusal to accept the government's obligation to ensure equal social and economic as well as political rights. Attitudes and discriminatory actions applied to disadvantaged citizens, and mobilized by right-wing political groups, are easily transferred to immigrants, particularly unskilled immigrants who match the profiles of unfavoured minorities. Following 9/11, the creation of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) in 2003 marked a step-up not only of immigration enforcement but also its integration within a security framework. This highlighted the presumed

46. Particularly helpful summaries on general issues of citizenship and migration are Castles and Davidson (2000) and Castles and Miller (2009).


"threat" from immigrants and increased the scope for systematic human rights abuses (see box).47

ICE in the United States: Injustice for All Findings of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

• DHS [Department of Homeland Security] is detaining and deporting immigrants at alarming rates; communities are devastated and ICE deportations impact communities and the economy.

• ICE uses prolonged and indefinite detention and the threat of loss of life and freedom to coerce persons jailed for immigration status offences into waiving their due process rights and accept deportation.

• ICE ACCESS programs and collaboration between local police and immigration officials rely heavily on racial profiling, undermining community safety, and make immigrants more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

• ICE's new workplace policing strategy of auditing employment files, allowing employers to fire undocumented workers en masse, has deepened the economic and humanitarian crisis in communities, increasing labour rights violations and other abuse.

• The unrelenting militarization of immigration control and border communities is deliberately causing migrant deaths and violates the rights of border communities.

• Local, county and state anti-immigrant legislative, policy proposals and ordinances across the country fuel and condone hate violence against immigrants and propel police and government abuses with impunity.

- National Network for Immigrant and Refugees Rights (2010: 2-3)

In the United States, the prospect for systematic reform is limited not only by the political power of anti-immigrant forces, but also by an inherent contradiction in most reform proposals, which combine promises of regularized status for a subset of irregular migrants with continued restrictions on immigration and pledges of even more strict enforcement against those violating new regulations. Since irregular migration is driven by more fundamental inequalities, such reforms help set the scene for repetition of the same pattern of abuses.

In Europe, despite the diversity of national heritages, a convergence in immigration policies is being driven by the European Union policy development process (Collett 2010). While anti-immigrant attitudes are expressed both at local and national levels48—to cite only the most recent and prominent, the French government's actions against the Roma and the anti-immigrant views in

47. Among recent reports documenting these abuses, see National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (2010). See also the websites of the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, which also monitor these issues.

48. See European Race Audit (2010a) for a review of local initiatives by extreme-right groups.


a new book by German banker Thilo Sarrazin—there is a similar contradiction within the EU policy structure itself. On the one hand, there are programs for "integration" of immigrant communities and human rights guidelines, monitored by the new Agency for Fundamental Rights ( On the other hand, Europe's FRONTEX, formed in 2006, works with national governments to implement active programs for deportation, more rigorous monitoring of borders, and stopping immigrants before arrival, whether at sea or through cooperation with transit and origin countries.49

In short, inclusion and exclusion are simultaneous realities. Flourishing immigrant communities, including African immigrants, are well-established in the developed countries of North America and Europe. Acknowledgement of multicultural realities is common currency in Europe as well as in traditional countries of immigration. But at the same time, governments, with support from strong sectors of public opinion, are also moving ahead with more and more elaborate policies of restrictive entry and deportations.

The structural obstacles to reform that respects migrants' rights, particularly the rights of irregular migrants, go far beyond the existence of far-right anti-immigrant parties and public sentiment. Security fears and security bureaucracies in the post-9/11 era foster a climate which excuses the violation of human rights. Politicians across the political spectrum cater to anti-immigrant sentiment, and anti-Islamic views have broad exposure in public debate (Hockenos, 2011). Efforts to protect irregular migrants must face the political reality that employers of irregular migrants profit from their vulnerability, which both sets up powerful political resistance to meaningful reform and undermines enforcement of those protections that do become law.

Nor, in most cases, can migrants in developed countries, particularly irregular or unskilled migrants, expect protection from their countries of origin. Despite the recent increase of interest in migration and development, the negotiations between countries of origin and destination have rarely incorporated representation of migrants themselves. Even when agreements do not negatively affect migrants, such as agreements on receiving deportees or cooperation in interception of migrants, the focus is most often narrowly on trade-offs of aid unrelated to migrant welfare or on macroeconomic financial gains from remittances and potential investments.

As outlined above in the section on the diversity of African migration, even such a general summary would be impossible for the range of migration situations within the continent.50 Among African countries, South Africa and Libya

49. For a systematic review of deportation programs, see European Race Audit (2010b).

50. For a detailed overview of citizenship rights in Africa, see Manby 2009. Ongoing coverage of these issues is provided by the Citizenship Rights in Africa Initiative (


have certain parallels to the developed countries, in that immigration is driven largely by economic disparities with sending countries, and that black immigrants are those who particularly face the threat of xenophobia. But in other respects they differ profoundly. South African migration and human rights law is largely conducive to the protection of migrants' rights, although societal inequalities and public opinion push practice in exclusive directions. Libyan law and practice make citizenship rights inaccessible to any except descendants of Libyan citizens and, exceptionally, to those from other Arab states. And the authoritarian state has blocked protest and monitoring of human rights abuses, leaving few channels for protection of migrants' rights.

In some countries elsewhere on the continent migration and citizenship rights are closely linked to internal political conflict. The policies of most African countries in linking citizenship rights to descent rather than to birth create the potential for such linkages whenever there are large migrant flows. In 2011, these issues remain at the heart of conflicts in Cote d'Ivoire and the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. And they are among the most sensitive issues as Sudan sorts out the relationship between the soon-to-be South Sudan and the remainder of the country. As of early 2011, negotiations are still ongoing on definition of the status for Southerners in the North and Northerners in the South. But both the existing Sudanese constitution and draft constitutional proposals from South Sudan link citizenship to descent rather than to birth, one indicator pointing to the likelihood of serious disputes as millions of Sudanese suddenly become "migrants" in one of the two successor states (Assal 2011; Manby 2011).

Free Movement of Persons: The Right to Migrate

Thus, both in Africa and beyond, as outlined in the preceding pages, efforts to protect migrants' rights already promised in international law continue to face strong structural obstacles. Yet some voices are also beginning to raise other fundamental questions as well.

Should the authority granted to states to control migration itself be questioned, given its role in preventing human beings from seeking the protection of their fundamental rights by migrating?

Given the degree of regional and global integration, and the increasing freedom of movement of capital, goods, and services in an unequal world, must not human beings themselves also be guaranteed freedom of movement, however utopian such a proposal might seem to be? Isn't freedom of movement among the global public goods which should be the common heritage of the human family?

The prospect that states will in the foreseeable future relinquish their rights to control movement of persons is, of course, remote. But there is increasingly


active debate, both on the ethical justification for freedom of movement and on the practical options for gradually expanding its scope. Two strands of this debate have significant relevance for African immigration. Most immediately there is the expansion of freedom of movement within African "regional economic communities."51 Also relevant, although the debate on this is just beginning, is the obligation of rich countries to liberalize immigration from developing countries, in parallel with the broader obligation to provide their fair share of support for global human development.

Freedom of movement of persons within the African continent, long a Pan-African aspiration, was established as a goal in the Abuja Treaty of 1991, as part of the long-term plan for an African Economic Community. To date, however, what progress has been made has focused at the level of regional economic communities. As noted above in the section on West Africa, it is ECOWAS which has taken the most significant steps to implement this goal. More recently, the East African Community, reconstituted in 2000, established a common market in 2010, with provision for progressive implementation of "(i) free movement of goods; (ii) free movement of persons; (iii) free movement of workers; (iv) the right of establishment; (v) the right of residence; (vi) free movement of services; and (vii) free movement of capital." The East African Community, in contrast to its pre-1977 predecessor organization, since 2007 includes Rwanda and Burundi as well as the original members, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

In Southern Africa, the pace has been slow, and marked by strong disagreements among member states. This has resulted in a draft protocol on "facilitation" rather than "freedom" of movement, as well as limited progress on facilitation of movement through bilateral treaties. However, South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia—all countries attracting immigrants—continue to oppose full freedom of movement. Similarly, the broader Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, with 19 member states from Egypt to Swaziland, adopted a protocol including the free movement of persons. But implementation of that protocol has been patchy at best, with emphasis on freedom of trade rather than freedom of persons.

In more general terms, and particularly with respect to the right of movement from poor countries to rich countries, an increasing number of policy analysts and scholars are challenging the conventional acceptance of the sovereign right of states to deny entry to their borders. As noted above in the section on inequality, economist Branko Milanovic and sociologists Roberto Korzeniewicz and Timothy Moran have highlighted the consequences of widening global inequality and the injustice of determining life chances by the fate of a child's

51. For contrasting case studies of West Africa and Southern Africa, see the relevant chapters in Pecoud and de Guchteneire (2007). See also the website of the Institute for African Integration (


citizenship. As noted in the section on migration and development, economist Lant Pritchett laid out the development benefits of expanding immigration of unskilled workers to developed countries.

Migration analysts and legal scholars have also begun to address related issues. A set of studies for the Global Commission on International Migration explored the option of what they called "Migration without Borders" (Pecoud and de Guchteneire 2005, 2007). The right to leave a country included in international human rights instruments, they argue, is incomplete if there is no comparable right to enter another country. And, they note, the strict limitation of immigration by sovereign nation-states should not be sacrosanct, and indeed was rarely consistently implemented prior to the 20th century.

International legal scholar Joel Trachtman (2009) systematically explores the case and the practical options for the "fourth freedom" of movement of labour (the first three being goods, services, and money). And legal philosopher Aye-let Shachar (2009) analyses the "birthright lottery" of allocation of citizenship rights (whether by descent or by birth) as establishing inequality by inheritance, similar to inheritance of property. Neither scholar advocates the full abolition of borders, but both argue that the inequality determined by the country of citizenship is unjust and that remedies must be found to address it.

Although recognizing the political obstacles to such measures, Trachtman argues for multilateral agreements expanding the prospects for increased migration, primarily benefiting migrants but also crafted, including adjustment mechanisms, so as to avoid losses to sending or receiving states or to particular disadvantaged groups. Shachar, in contrast, argues that open-admissions policies cannot be the sole or primary remedy. Instead, she presents the case for redistribution of resources through a "birthright privilege levy." Such a levy would be designed to ameliorate the inequalities due to the disparity of wealth by country of birth, while a new jus nexi (law of connection) could be developed as an alternative concept for opening citizenship more widely without full abolition of borders and devaluing membership in national communities.

It is no doubt true that opening the doors wider for non- skilled migrants to rich countries is an even more difficult goal than that of extending effective human rights protection to those migrants already resident or likely to move under current restrictions. But it is also an issue that will not go away, as long as large gaps in human development provide powerful incentives to move.