HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights, Global Affairs and Philosophy


To what extent is a country allowed to regulate immigration into its territory, and thus to determine who lives there? Acts of immigration amount to changes in two distinct relationships. They amount to a change in political relationships, since the immigrant alters her political standing within one community and acquires a new political status in her country of admission. Immigration represents, however, also an alteration in physical relationship, since the individual acquires a relationship to a particular piece of territory, making a life for herself with the resources offered by a specific part of the earth. This last form of relationship, we contend, is worthy of independent examination from the standpoint of justice, and opening up that line of inquiry is what this study seeks to do. This inquiry begins from the relationship of people to property, and asks whether that relationship imposes independent moral constraints on immigration controls.


Blake, Michael, and Mathias Risse. "Is There a Human Right to Free Movement? Immigration and Original Ownership of the Earth." KSG Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP06-012, April 2006.