The Global Migration Centre is pleased to announce the publication of Vincent Chetail’s article, ‘Crisis Without Borders: What Does International Law Say About Border Closure in the Context of Covid-19?’, in Frontiers in Political Science, a leading Open Access Publisher and Open Science Platform, as part of a series on Migration in the Time of COVID-19: Comparative Law and Policy Responses.
His paper is assessing the legality of border closures decided by many states with the view of limiting the spread of Covid-19. Although this issue has raised diverging interpretations in relation to International Health Regulations and regional free movement agreements, international human rights law provides a clear-cut answer: the rule of law stops neither at the border nor in times of emergency.
Against this normative framework, border control can and must be carried out with the twofold purpose of protecting public health and individual rights. Yet, border closure is unable to do so because banning entry to any foreigners or those of a particular nationality is by essence a collective and automatic denial of admission without any other form of process.
Vincent Chetail demonstrates that blanket entry bans on the ground of public health are illegal under international human rights law. They cannot be reconciled with the most basic rights of migrants and refugees, including the principle of non-refoulement and access to asylum procedures, the prohibition of collective expulsion, the best interests of the child and the principle of non-discrimination.
His paper concludes on the ways to better integrate at the borders public health and human rights imperatives in due respect with the rule of law. In both law and practice, public health and migrant's rights are not mutually exclusive. They can reinforce each other within a comprehensive human rights based approach to health and migration policies.
Crisis Without Borders: What Does International Law Say About Border Closure in the Context of Covid-19?
Frontiers in Political Science, Comparative Governance, December 2020
The full text is available here