Open Borders and the COVID-19 Pandemic

in Democratic Theory
David Owen University of Southampton, UK

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This paper considers the implications of COVID for open borders. It notes that while COVID concerns do not directly challenge arguments for open borders, the pandemic has revealed two more general phenomena that are salient for such arguments. The first concerns the increasing unmooring of legal borders from physical spaces and the interaction of surveillance and identification technologies with this process. The second addresses the issue of interdependency and the potentially negative implications of open borders if not underpinned by a global basic structure.

Contributor Notes

David Owen is Professor of Social & Political Philosophy at the University of Southampton. He has published widely on issues of democratic theory and of migration. His most recent book is What Do We Owe to Refugees? (Polity 2020). E-mail:

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