While people are as mobile as they ever were in our globalized world, the movement of people across borders lacks global regulation. This leaves many refugees in protracted displacement and many migrants unprotected in irregular and dire situations. Meanwhile, some states have become concerned that their borders have become irrelevant. International mobility—the movement of individuals across borders for any length of time as visitors, students, tourists, labor migrants, entrepreneurs, long-term residents, asylum seekers, or refugees—has no common definition or legal framework. To address this key gap in international law, and the growing gaps in protection and responsibility that are leaving people vulnerable, the "Model International Mobility Convention" proposes a framework for mobility with the goals of reaffirming the existing rights afforded to mobile people (and the corresponding rights and responsibilities of states) as well as expanding those basic rights where warranted.
In 213 articles divided over eight chapters, the Convention establishes both the minimum rights afforded to all people who cross state borders as visitors, and the special rights afforded to tourists, students, migrant workers, investors and residents, forced migrants, refugees, migrant victims of trafficking and migrants caught in countries in crisis. Some of these categories are covered by existing international legal regimes. However, in this Convention these groups are for the first time brought together under a single framework. An essential feature of the Convention is that it is cumulative. This means, for the most part, that the chapters build on and add rights to the set of rights afforded to categories of migrants covered by earlier chapters. The Convention contains not only provisions that afford rights to migrants and, to a lesser extent, States (such as the right to decide who can enter and remain in their territory). It also articulates the responsibilities of migrants vis-à-vis States and the rights and responsibilities of different institutions that do not directly respond to a right held by migrants.
"The Model Convention has a great starting point, which is reality. There are 244 million human beings on the move around the world for a whole variety of reasons, and that's what we human beings do, we move."
Anne C. Richard, Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration (2012-17)
The Model International Mobility Convention was developed by a Commission of eminent academic and policy experts in the fields on migration, human rights, national security, labor economics and refugee law. The Commission came together to debate and develop the Convention in workshops conducted regularly from spring 2015 until it was finalized in April 2017. A full list of Commission and other signatories to the Convention can be found further down on this page. The Columbia Journal of Transnational Law published the Model International Mobility Convention in a Special Issue in January of 2018, which includes 12 commentaries by academics and policymakers in the fields of migration, human rights, national security, labor economics, and refugee law.
The MIMC Summary of the Convention is available to download here.
The MIMC Booklet with the full Convention is available to download here.
The Columbia Journal of Transnational Law Special Issue (Vol. 56, No. 2) is available to download here.
Feedback and Support
Please give your feedback or consider expressing your support by signing the Model International Mobility Convention at mobilityconvention.columbia.edu/sign-convention.
A full list of Commission member signatories and other public signatories to the Convention can be found at mobilityconvention.columbia.edu/signatories.
Convention Launch Events
For a list of upcoming and past launch events, visit mobilityconvention.columbia.edu/events.