Does Justice Require a Migration Lottery?


  • Aveek Bhattacharya



Starting from the observation that substantively free migration is impossible in a world where millions lack the resources to move country, this article evaluates two contenders for the second-best alternative. On the face of it, arguments from freedom of association and material inequality appear to commend formally open borders, while those from liberty and equality of opportunity seem to favour a migration lottery. However, the argument from liberty gives us only a presumption in favour of freedom of movement, rather than an equal human right. This is not enough to make a compelling case for a migration lottery. Moreover, the idea that equality of opportunity requires a migration lottery rests on the belief that this will facilitate self-realisation. Yet it is free movement which better promotes self-realisation. Therefore, it is concluded that the case for a migration lottery is ultimately unpersuasive.