Article 13: Freedom of Movement

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
  2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

This essentially means that everyone has the right to travel around their own country or territory. It also means everyone has the right to decide where in their country or territory they would like to live. Furthermore, one’s country or territory is not allowed to prohibit its citizens from leaving their country, nor can they deny them the right to come back to their own country or territory.

The right to movement is often taken for granted, especially within many of the European Union countries. However, it is a right many people use every day without even knowing it. People traveling for work or pleasure, visiting family in other parts of their country and many other activities are protected by this exact article. 

However, many have realized the importance of this article in the times of the Covid-19 pandemic. This right can be restricted or modified under special circumstances and during the covid-19 lockdown of many countries, people are not allowed to travel between countries, and in some cases not even within their own country. Families can’t visit each other,  businesses can’t function, and in some countries, you can not even go for a walk in the park without permission. These measures to try and limit the spread of the virus has made many realize the incredible importance of the right to freedom of movement, for without which, many things would not be possible. But even in non-covid times, there are many places around the world, where freedom to travel in one’s own or other countries is not the reality. The residents of North Korea are denied the right to leave their country entirely, and if trying to escape the North Koreans face brutal punishment by the government.  Furthermore, the North Korean government is trying to restrict the residents’ movement within the country as well. This is a clear violation of this article.

Written by Nanna Orloff Mortensen

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