International Human Rights Day: Should we recognize a right to cross borders in search of a better life?

Dec 10, 2021

12:00 PM - 01:00 PM

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Presenter Tom Farer smiling

For International Human Rights Day the UI Center for Human Rights, United Nations Association Iowa Division, and the Johnson County UNA Chapter will host Tom Farer for a public lecture.

Should we recognize a right to cross borders in search of a better life?

Presented by Tom Farer| University Professor and Dean Emeritus | Josef Korbel School of International Studies | University of Denver

Friday, December 10, 2021

Noon - 1:00 pm CST

Zoom ID: 913 3410 3854

During the next 30 years, absent nuclear war or a pandemic that dwarfs Covid-19 in lethality, global population will increase by over one billion people.  All the increase will occur in relatively poor countries where job prospects for the great majority of people entering the work force are bleak.  Add predictable displacement of tens of millions of people by climate change and it is evident that the incentives for people, particularly young people, to migrate to the centers of global wealth will only become more powerful.  But despite their declining numbers and their aging, the electorates of wealthy countries seem hostile to admitting large numbers of people from countries in the global south.   

Capital moves with little friction to the places where the chances for its efficient use are highest.  Why shouldn't people be able to do the same?  The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights does not include a right to enter a country only a right to leave it.  But given present and prospective conditions in the world, is there not a case for recognizing such a right?  The human-rights-related arguments for recognizing it are strong.  However, opponents of free movement also can draw on human rights to justify restraints on entry.  Even some Western liberals, while sympathetic to opening the doors much wider, are uneasy about the entry of persons from countries with illiberal traditions.  Which raises the question of whether there are or should be limits to liberal tolerance of cultural differences.

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