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Abstract

In the current climate of security concerns, the movement of people across borders is becoming increasingly criminalised. Yet there is a parallel political and economic reality in which borders are opening and the movement of people is being liberalised: zones of free movement such as the European Union expand; other bilateral and multilateral agreements include provisions for more fluid cross-border movement; international trade negotiations seek to facilitate the flow of those providing goods and services; developing countries’ push for greater access for their citizens to the labour markets of the industrialised world; and a new class of “gold collar” professionals moves with increasing ease around the globe. This paper explores the possibilities of universal open borders as a future policy option. The author accepts realpolitik and understands that the free flow of immigrants is currently impossible, but also maintains that open borders are an inevitable long-term consequence of globalisation, as well as a policy option for addressing North-South inequalities and a moral touchstone for the global extension of human rights. The paper does not advocate for more migration, but instead explores the paradox that the creation of the conditions that would allow for the opening of borders is likely to reduce the incentives for emigration. The paper explores the policy changes needed to achieve open borders.