The Abolition of Foreignness

49 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2009

See all articles by Michael Curtotti

Michael Curtotti

Australian National University (ANU)

Date Written: December 31, 2008


The title of this paper seeks to identify a thematic barrier to the further advancement of human rights. It argues that moral standards (or to put it another way how we think about the rights of our fellow human beings) plays a fundamental role in the progress of human rights. In the cases of slavery, gender inequality and racism, significant progress only came after the development of new paradigms which extended equality to the previously excluded group. These case studies further offer insights into the processes by which seemingly ineradicable injustices in society are amenable to change. In our current world, much of our behaviour implicitly and explicitly regards discrimination against foreigners as morally acceptable. Implicitly the suffering of human beings who we categorize as non-citizens or foreigners has less value than our own suffering. The implicit acceptance, including in human rights instruments, that foreigners are not entitled to full equality feeds enormous human suffering, which amounts to moral, if not legal, human rights violations. The case studies examined in this paper suggest the importance of challenging discrimination and exclusion on the grounds of foreignness, if the most profound human rights violations of the modern day are to be addressed.

Keywords: human rights, foreignness, global apartheid, slavery, gender equality, racism

Suggested Citation

Curtotti, Michael, The Abolition of Foreignness (December 31, 2008). Available at SSRN: or

Michael Curtotti (Contact Author)

Australian National University (ANU) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601

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