The Border Issue


When we look at the concept of the “border” by definition, we encounter that there are two kinds of the border in the usage of international politics. One of them is called ‘Political Boundaries’ and it means the lines which are conceived by human beings to separate areas according to to be governed by different societies. They may be redrawn on occasions of critical historical events such as war, immigration and agreements. It is also concluded via the quest for regional independence which is essential for citizens under the incumbent government. States or communities that look for sovereignty are able to designate their own territories. The second version of the border is called ‘Physical Boundaries’ and it means indigenous obstacles which are the most striking effects on the division of areas. Unlike deserts, mountains or oceans, we would like to add clean water sources as an item to the conception of barriers. Because people shape the environment where they maintain their lives according to clean water reserves by using this factor in cultivating, feeding their animals, urbanization etc.

In contrast with physical boundaries, political boundaries are more crucial in the international arena. They conflict with each other in practice. People tend to protect their sovereignty with hard power that is based on military assets in the face of political boundaries rather than physical ones.

In the concept of this paper, it was viewed six articles which try to focus on the main points: Rights of both immigrants and states according to Democratic Theory, Characteristics and cultural deterrents which hold people together, Reactions of nation-states against bound set, Having a critical location: Turkey’s migration policies, Relativity of coercion across borders and Identities that are used to make sense of citizens. These are several perspectives which contain many authorized scholars’ preferences. Their concepts were enhanced according to the new widespread individual perception of freedom in the last decades. This circumstance triggers new controversial debates between two types of borders internationally.

When we look at human nature, we see that every person feels obliged to have a designated area on his/her own by indicating this space with numerous means such as borders and stumbling blocks. This instinct leads to make them having unlimited rights. As a result of this situation, a person feels insecure about actions that may come from other people.

In the current international system, we can’t explain either why states/elites hold executive power or why they use this power in a designated area by only mentioning the term democracy. It is commonly estimated that there are elections in every society and people who are elected majoritarian become administrative units to determine rules and laws. But we must realize that democracy only specifies how executive branches are chosen by electoral systems and how they operate the society. The term democracy doesn’t explain why citizens must obey the rules which are regulated by administrators. There is basically a conditional contract that is called the Contract of Administrative Power. As it always has been in every agreement, it has contracting parties which consist of citizens and administrators. This contract comprises that we ought to obey the rules given by administrators who are capable of obtaining authority as long as these administrators in states protect their citizens’ human rights. This serves as a better, well-ordered and more secure territory to live in so that current governments choose regular lines and borders between themselves and other communities.

According to the new movement of thought, people are not born with these borders and they don’t accept these obstacles connately. There have been these borders before and communities where people are born to force them to accept these obstacles. A person can live wherever they would like to at his/her sole discretion. They have this privilege by birth. This new perception was basically invented by J. J. Rousseau and he explained why states or people demark in his book ‘Origin of Inequality’. In his book an example is really didactic about the presence of borders: “The first person has turned around a piece of land and said, ‘This is mine,’ and found such pure others, who believed in this discourse, became the true founder of civilized society. Someone who will cry out to you by dismantling the piles or filling the horns, ‘Stop listening to this crook, you know that the berth belongs to everybody, and you forget that the earth does not belong to anybody’, could have saved the human race from the crimes, the wars, the murders, the miseries and the horrors” (Rousseau, 1755: 63). After this assumption today, people start to interrogate that unless they revoke other people’s rights, they are able to both live wherever they want to and make whatever they want to. Because of the thought ‘homo homini lupus’, states are obliged to draw the boundary. In free environments without boundaries, people are inclined to be more useful and tend to be more tolerant.

States also use the term border to corrupt legitimacy so that they can be flexible to shape inner environments. There is no need to have higher authority in a hierarchical domestic arena or anarchical international society. In this paper articles that were viewed are reconsidered within this scope.

Thesis from different Scholars and Anti-thesis

In the first article that was written by Arash Abizadeh, it is stated that citizens who are regular members of a state can only designate any rules about its borders. According to the democratic theory of popular sovereignty, entry policies ought to be controlled by only a unilaterally democratic state. This discourse is based on the state’s legitimacy that is given by members who admit that citizens of a state reserve the right to both draw and control the boundaries against foreigners. This tendency causes conflict between liberal and democratic points of view. According to the liberal worldview, every person has the right to move freely, on the other hand, the democratic worldview requires the appropriation of designated areas. This thought is the core reason for ‘self-determination right’. Because of the desire to obtain both domestic and popular legitimacy, states restrict the right of foreigners who don’t have to obey any rules or laws of the host country. The author defends the opinion of the necessity of reforming the principles of democratic theory. It includes several items; the right of one-sided control of boundaries is unconformable with either liberal or democratic approaches, regulations about entry policies must be organized in democratic forums where foreigners and citizens are simultaneously attending, control of boundaries must be allocated between citizens and state administrators (Abizadeh, 2008: 54).

Current systems of governing societies are not corresponding with the presence of military powers. Millions of dollars have been spent to preserve the boundaries of states against foreigners until today. It is approved that one of the aims of armies is to maintain its boundaries secured so that executive power does not need any citizens as representatives in National Democratic Forums. Because they have their own deterrent force to use against the citizens who are members of the foreigners and discourses that are called ‘National Security’ to make themselves less accountable. There is also a deadlock in the opinion of gathering citizens and foreigners on the same platform. States don’t have friendly relations but just interests. Foreigners may not be friendly or coherent with the host society. They can also move to new countries because of many reasons such as war, economic problems, having a purpose for acts of terrorism etc.

When we think of these imponderable factors, foreigners who are in the same forum as host citizens tend to protect their own interests rather than the common benefit. The coalition between citizens and state administrators doesn’t come up with a solution to the problem of boundaries because the states’ own citizens are also keen on either moving to new countries or exploring new living quarters that have better conditions in comparison to their current ones. State administrators who are elites of government are also prone to take advantage of ruling capabilities. They would like to acquire profit maximization according to their own interests.

The second article that was owned by Joseph H. Carens states that there is no obligation to force states to admit foreigners even though they are peaceful and needy. The author wants to draw attention to the issue of morality. Although gatekeepers of states’ boundaries would like to prevent armed invaders or criminals from entering their territory that was secured for their own citizens’ rights to live in a peaceful way with their families, all foreigners or immigrants don’t have the same intentions. They may be really innocuous and their goal can be only seeking an opportunity to secure both themselves and their families (Carens, 1987: 251).

Scholar also states that citizens of the host state accept certain rules and obligations. This is because of citizens’ selection to cooperate together in a designated area under the directorship of ruling elites. These rules and obligations are not shared by foreigners who are not members of the host country. From the liberal perspective, foreigners who choose to admit both codified and cultural-based rules of the host country as it means a ‘Social Contract’, ought to be allowed to enter the society and with an effort of host citizens, their process of integration should be promoted. The scholar is also concerned about the number of foreigners who want to move in so that it is easier to be absorbed by society without damaging the cultural identity of society. The author adds that these foreign people just move because they have to. People don’t wish for a situation like immigration etc. and don’t want to leave their native land where they both feel at home and grew up. In liberal societies, there is no concern about the cultural identity of a society. Cultural items can be changed with new members but it can’t leave society without any identity. The new version of culture may be more valuable for both host citizens and new members. Accepting new members to a community also guarantees the future capacity of this society. People can find an opportunity to shape their future according to the demands of the current international arena. It is also compulsory for countries to consider principles of justice among human beings as a tool for suppressing human rights violations (Carens, 1987: 271).

The assertion of the author about enforcement to states via higher authority is not compatible with today’s conditions in the world. Even if all of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or international organizations such as the European Union and NATO announce a regulation about the immigration process for developed countries to force them to admit new members who want to settle in their countries’ territory, they don’t want to obey the instructions given by international organizations.

On the other hand, these organizations consist of developed countries so that founders don’t endanger their common interests. Citizens in communities don’t have to follow the old order. They may change contract articles to get their will back then they can make new rules.

In the concept of the third article, the scholar who is Stephen Castles mentions the responses of nation-states to increasing numbers of immigrants. This significant development obliged states to determine new policies such as assimilation or exclusion models. States couldn’t maintain the policy of preventing settlements that is not temporary because of their negative sides. This policy triggers public distrust of governments which assures inserting all citizens and new members into civil society according to the principles of democracy. Although other approaches also have many disadvantages, countries that are exposed to the immigration process manage to integrate new members (Castles, 1995: 293).

When we think of gradual transitions of culture in communities, it would be very slow for states to react against either needs analysis or management of this continuum. Adopting any models may cause discrepancies between governors who occupy the executive branch and host citizens. This situation leads the country to have an internal disturbance. The majorities in societies are not pure enough so multiculturalism is inevitable. We can see this reality from the example of the United States regulations about immigrants in the last four months. When Trump declared that only seven countries are not allowed to enter the United States, most of the members of the population reacted immediately against the administration’s new arrangement. Even though these practices couldn’t be implemented owing to juridical justifications, activists united the society against the Trump regime as it means the ‘New Face of Racism’. Then their movement became famous all around the world and they are supported by other European and Turkish citizens who act responsibly toward this anti-Muslim arrangement.

Assimilation which is thought of as a way of excluding immigrants can be hazardous for host states that use this policy model. Host citizens may experience incomprehensibility in their native languages. Language is a dynamic term so it is changeable unavoidably. There may be a controversy between assimilation and integration. Communities remain in the middle of these two different situations. Host citizens and new members usually stay irresolute between these circumstances. Instability causes damage to both the moral principles of society and common public identity.

It is a common mistake that democratic principles in a government are calculated with only the number of immigrants they accepted. Beyond the numbers, the reasons for the immigration problem lie in the origins of states. In reality, any government doesn’t have democratic intellection which they have promised before they are elected.

After obtaining executive power, governors change their policies according to their own interests unexpectedly. Therefore, there are always immigration problems due largely to their so-called democratic discourses.

According to the fourth article written by Ahmet İçduygu and Damla B. Aksel, it is stated that Turkey passed through many paths full of international and domestic milestones. Turkey has its own double-sided majorities which consist of people from both revisionist perspectives and status-quoist perspectives. But Turkey managed to see the other side of the medallion and selected revisionist international immigration regulations. Especially increasing the number of immigrants, who are from the labour class, was used as a means of reducing the number of unemployed people. Today, Turkey experiences a new kind of immigration process such as asylum seekers and refugees so it gives importance to public diplomacy to influence citizens to tolerate the situation and other countries to gain economic and political opportunities (İçduygu, Aksel, 2013: 186).

It is worth pondering that Turkey has crucial and precious historical ties with other people from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region. This bond has pros and cons. We can give a peaceful environment in harmony while gathering economic returns from your historical partners as an advantageous example and we may give taking full responsibility in any bad situations where your partner countries are a disadvantageous example. As a result of this occasion, Turkey has to suffer the consequences of irregular immigration and downswings.

In the concept of the fifth article that was written by John Torpey, there is a concern about means of identities such as IDs and passports. Every administration of countries produces specific indicating instruments which separate people from others and bring a sense of belonging to their citizens. The author thinks that citizens who have determined identities from their native countries feel obliged to stay in a designated area during their lifetime. This policy which governments use for limiting unrestrained movements across boundaries can also be used by other countries that are neighbours and make citizens feel captive. Scholar gives a specific example of European countries. They have loose boundaries between them as an internal reciprocal agreement. But this selection also causes sharp external border policies because of uneasiness about whether any criminal action may occur or any foreigner can disregard the rule (Torpey, 1997: 256).

Being a citizen of any country doesn’t mean feeling obliged to belong and stay in a designated area. People may adopt different customs, cultures and lifestyles in certain circumstances. For example, any person who is born in İstanbul may continue their life in London etc. This instinct comes from the desire of being happy for a lifetime. People are not happy to be in a designated area, they are happy where they feel satisfied personally.

From the last article’s perspective written by David Miller, he argues with the preferences of Abizadeh and declares that if any government excludes immigrants, it means a coercive action and executive branch members think that this action comes from its own right in democracy (Miller, 2010: 112).

Until today, there is no country which has a fixed boundary. In other words, the boundaries of the countries have changed many times throughout the world. That means there is no pure community in the world. People have affected themselves according to their native cultures, customs or types of religions. The bridges of culture have already been stated before existing political boundaries.


In conclusion, the problem of borders is condemned to continue because of the mindsets of both rulers from the executive branch and citizens. Governments ought to play a mediating role in this problem but they don’t give an inch to solving this issue. Instead of constituting Councils of Immigrants in whole countries, there must be a new association which is developed by the United Nations and European Union. In this structure, all of the countries from the bottom up should have their own representatives to debate these issues in a democratic way. Beyond the issues, this council must provide people with several opportunities; freedom of speech, migration rights which has rigid rules, protection against violence and gradual transition to integration into new societies.

Otherwise, the human being needs a new body which doesn’t bother problems of boundaries. This body has to have strict rules which involve equality of all members of the world and altruism. This structure may be higher authority over states in an anarchical international arena. The regulations about immigration processes ought to be taken in a consensus electoral system. In this stage, the most important role has an activist for countries. They must trigger the population and mobilize citizens through freedom of personal sovereignty. The prosperity of the whole world directly depends on individual movement flexibility and freedom of opinion.

Intrinsically, solid never belong to anybody except the whole population. If anyone objected to the man who first conquered and covered the solid, and said that it belongs to all aborigines then he or she eradicated the fences, we wouldn’t discuss this issue and we would never encounter the wars.

Araştırma Asistanı


  • Abizadeh, Arash. 2008. Democratic Theory and Border Coercion. Sage Publications
  • Carens, Joseph H. 1987. Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders. Cambridge University Press
  • Castles, Stephen. 1995. How Nation-States Respond to Immigration and Ethnic Diversity. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
  • İçduygu, Ahmet. Aksel, Damla B. 2013. Turkish Migration Policies: A Critical Historical Retrospective. Migration Policy Centre
  • Miller, David. 2010. Why Immigration Controls Are Not Coercive: A Reply to Arash Abizadeh. Sage Publications
  • Torpey, John. 1998. Coming and Going: On the State Monopolization of the Legitimate “Means of Movement”. American Sociological Association

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