The term freedom of movement is used by OSCE participating States to describe a wide range of topics that concern the right of all people to leave and return to their state, and to move freely within the borders of their own state. It also covers the rights of foreigners to unrestricted movement within state borders and the facilitation of freer cross-border movement and contacts among people, institutions and organizations in participating States.
All OSCE participating States have committed themselves to respect the internationally recognized human rights to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state, as well as to leave any country, including one’s own. In the 1990 Copenhagen Document, the states also affirmed that “freer contacts among their citizens are important in the context of the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
The registration of place of residence is an administrative tradition in many OSCE participating States and often consists of a simple notification to the relevant authorities. In some cases, however, registration procedures are complex and arduous, and can constitute an obstacle to freedom of movement for individuals and for certain categories of the population.
ODIHR offers expertise to participating States, upon request, for the development and implementation of legal and regulatory frameworks for population registration that respect the right to freedom of movement and free choice of place of residence.
Aiming to raise awareness of the OSCE commitments relating to freedom of movement and human contacts among citizens of participating States, ODIHR also promotes good practices in facilitating cross-border mobility, including the implementation of visa application procedures that facilitate freer cross-border travel and respect individual rights and freedoms.