We live now in the midst of a massive global crisis of mobility. An ever-growing population finds itself refugees displaced from the legitimate jurisdiction of any territorial state. In the face of this pressing emergency, influential voices argue that international human rights law should be placed “at the center” of international efforts to meet this challenge. But today's calamity is set against the backdrop of a universal human rights regime that is not only thin but, more importantly, incomplete. When it comes to cross-border mobility, human rights law ensures that states allow individuals to leave their state, but alas does not require that any other state let them enter and remain. Such entry and residence rights are required only for a country's own nationals (however nationality is defined). And so, many refugees who have exercised their human right to exit come up against a functional block to mobility: they have no place to stop moving. Some of them may nonetheless find a state willing to take them in. In that case, they may enjoy meaningful protection, but this protection exists only by virtue of a state's domestic policies and has little to do with international human rights.
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