Freedom of Movement (FoM) is a fundamental right that is recognized and protected by international law. It entails the right to leave, enter and remain in the territory of one’s country as well as to move within that territory without restrictions. Freedom of Movement is a critical component of freedom of expression, which requires the freedom to communicate across borders and to receive information from other parts of the world. Freedom of movement is also a fundamental element of economic development, providing opportunities for investment and trade as well as for the creation of jobs and the circulation of capital.
The human rights treaties and conventions that the OSCE participating States are parties to all recognize the right of individuals to freedom of movement. For example, Article 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU guarantees this right for its citizens. This is further specified in Directive 2004/38/EC.
A number of factors can influence a person’s freedom of movement, including the laws, policies and practices of governments. For instance, the laws of a country can restrict freedom of movement for persons with criminal records, especially if the person is unable to return to their home country after they have completed their sentence. In addition, the practice of imposing conditions for work visas may limit FoM. These restrictions may be justified, as allowed under international law, for national security or public order reasons.
Other factors can also limit freedom of movement, such as quarantine during an outbreak of an illness or isolation during a disaster. While these circumstances may interfere with a person’s right to freedom of movement, they are not necessarily in violation of it if the infringement is proportionate.
In addition, the right to move freely between countries is subject to certain limitations under international law, in particular, where a country has signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Its provisions allow a State to restrict the right to freedom of movement ‘in any case where it is necessary for imposing measures of general application relating to freedom of movement, such as the protection of public health, morals or social order’.
This material is provided to persons who have a role in Commonwealth legislation, policy or programs as general guidance only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Commonwealth agencies that require advice on the issues raised in this document should seek that advice in accordance with the Legal Services Directions 2005.
The purpose of this examination is to analyse the determinants of actual and perceived FoM for civilians, Coalition and Afghan security forces, government officials, nongovernmental organisations and insurgents in Afghanistan. This will support the development of sustainable FoM assessment processes that take into account the range of variables that enable and inhibit FoM in a given context. It will also clarify best practices and identify gaps in knowledge and capability that assessment teams can address. This will help to ensure that assessments are robust and informed by the most recent international standards in this field.