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Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights at International Borders

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Foreword

OHCHR’s Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights at International Borders are the result of wide-ranging expert consultations to draw up normative guidelines on the governance of international borders. They are intended to inform the work of States, international agencies and other stakeholders with an interest in human rights-based border governance.
The Principles and Guidelines accompanied the report of the Secretary-General on Protection of Migrants (A/69/277) presented to the 69th session of the General Assembly held in 2014. Member States have taken note of the Principles and Guidelines in General Assembly resolutions on Protection of Migrants and on Migrant children and adolescents.
International borders can be dangerous places for migrants, particularly those who are (or who are presumed to be) in irregular situations. Many migrants lose their lives when they board unseaworthy boats, smugglers leave them to die at sea, or when border guards are given orders to “shoot at sight” to deter irregular migration. At land, sea and air borders around the world, migrants experience discrimination and arbitrary decisionmaking, unlawful profiling and disproportionate interference with the right to privacy, torture and sexual and gender-based violence, dangerous interception practices, and prolonged or arbitrary detention. National law and administrative regulations can also characterize borders as zones of exclusion or exception for human rights obligations, and seek to exempt them from compliance with the human rights safeguards, checks and balances that are usually embedded in national laws.

These, and a range of other human rights issues, are addressed in OHCHR’s Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights at International Borders. The fundamental premise of ii the Principles and Guidelines is that international human rights law provides that all migrants, regardless of their legal status, how they arrive at the border, where they come from or what they look like, are entitled to enjoy their human rights. As their introduction makes clear, “Underpinning these Principles and Guidelines is the belief that respecting the human rights of all migrants, regardless of their nationality, migration status or other circumstances, facilitates effective border governance.” I urge States, international and civil society organizations to make use of the Principles and Guidelines in their border governance efforts.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights