The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says:

Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Would it therefore be legal to implement a Russian visa ban, as the European Union is currently considering doing?

  • 35
    People do not have implicit rights to enter a country other than their own, and this is what visas are for. A country does have a right to deny a person entrance, if that person is a foreigner. Therefore, EU can deny Russian tourists the right to enter its space.
    – Vesper
    Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 13:58
  • Well, I'm speaking not about one country, but about EU overall. Or do you want to say that as long as Russian tourist can visit at least China - it's ok?
    – Crantisz
    Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 14:00
  • 2
    I'm not sure if a EU state can give a local visa while not giving a Schengen-wide visa, but if all of Schengen states agree not to give visas to some people, they pretty well can do that. Denying someone a visa is not exactly against UDHR.
    – Vesper
    Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 14:03
  • But wouldn't that a general problem? For example if one state would like to ban a person, for example a criminal, he can get a Visa from another state? But it make sense though
    – Crantisz
    Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 15:55
  • I thought about this as well and at close examination UDHR is worded very subtly to be silent on situations such as visa ban. Commented Aug 26, 2022 at 6:19

4 Answers 4


OK, let's look at the horse's mouth.

Article 13

Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

And a simplified explanation of it:

Article 13

You have the right to freedom of movement within your country. Everyone has the right to leave a country and to return home.


First part. Yes, unlike some countries with internal passport systems, Russia does allow its citizens to travel and settle internally.

Second part. Also met. Unlike East Germany and North Korea. Russia allows people to emigrate. No barbed wire and minefields. Plenty of Russians have left.

A previous answer of yours even says so:

there are no exit visas, so you can leave the country as long as you have no debts, and you don't work at secret military service

I believe that, so far, they are being allowed back in, by Russia. Not doing so would be an exile situation, which is not happening. So, Russia, is not violating article 13, we'll agree.

Obligations of other countries to provide travel visas for pleasure and business? Don't see them.

Article 14

Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Accepting Russian who are leaving for good is happening. Not sure if Russia, yet, can be broadly accused of persecuting its own people and thus qualify for broad spectrum "justified claims of risk". If Russia's government wants to argue that its behavior, towards Russians, put it in the category of unsafe countries, maybe it could do so.

But, needless to remind you, article 14 is not concerned about travel visas, as listed in the question. It is acceptance as refugees.

To quote your linked article:

To protect national security and the integrity of EU sanctions, the bloc must impose a travel ban on tourism on Russian citizens until Moscow ends its invasion of Ukraine, Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas told EURACTIV.

  • 1
    The GDR did allow travel to other countries. You'd have to obtain a travel visa, and as everything in the GDR, this was abused as a disciplinary tool by the regime, but travel was possible. The list of countries was restricted and consisted primarily of other Warsaw Pact members (but even Cuba was possible). The events of 1989 are closely tied to this possibility of travel: That's why Hungary's decision to remove their border fortifications opened an important escape route to Austria, and this is how thousands of GDR citizens could find refuge in the FRG embassy in Prague.
    – Schmuddi
    Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 7:48


Entering the country other than the own is the privilege, not the right. Discrimination by the citizenship when granting this right is not racism. Lots of illegal migrants are returned where they came from all the time. It would be illegal to allow White to enter while denying Black with the same passport, but as long as there are no exceptions of this kind, it is fine.

The right to leave means the right to leave away over the border of the country. If another county behind the border does not allow to continue the path, this is not seen as a violation of human rights. Or, if it can be proved to be a violation due some legal twists I am not aware of, it is so extremely common that nobody will care.

That it is legal to do, does not mean it should be done.

  • 1
    In the article said that goal of this is "protect national security and the integrity of EU sanctions", not to "convince Russian citizens " to something. There you got this information?
    – Crantisz
    Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 17:14
  • Looks like they are changing the article over time. The previous versions were also against the visa ban but explaining properly enough what the people suggesting this ban aim to achieve. Looks like no longer. Fine for me, link removed.
    – Stančikas
    Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 17:22
  • 1
    "Discrimination by the citizenship when granting this right is not racism". If only what racism is was defined by law and treaty
    – OganM
    Commented Aug 26, 2022 at 0:26
  • At least it is usual that the country of origin makes big difference in how easy is to get the job permit, they are grouped into classes. I was never amazed by unequal treatment of citizens other than own but looks totally usual.
    – Stančikas
    Commented Aug 26, 2022 at 4:59

Or do you want to say that as long as Russian tourist can visit at least China - it's ok?

Even if every other country denied entry, it would be ok. The right to leave is only relative to the country being left. Russia can't prevent its citizens (nor anyone else) from leaving Russia (with exceptions for crime and so on).

If every other country refuses to accept the person, it's still possible to go sailing in international waters, for example. But even if it weren't, no other country would have to take on itself the responsibility of preserving the person's right to leave Russia.

  • 3
    And even if Russians can't get tourist visas, they may still be able to enter countries by other methods, e.g. as refugees.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Aug 26, 2022 at 15:51


  • The UNDHR/UDHR does not cover tourism visa bans, it's a country-level decision
  • The EU does not have the power to ban visas, it's a country-level decision
  • Tourism visa bans of all citizens of a country is at odds with UNDHR/UDHR axioms

Too many trolls making disingenuous or specious comments below.

The question originally asked about an EU tourism visa ban, and asks if some kind of global (as in all-comprising) visa ban is compliant or not with the UNDHR or UDHR, however you want to refer to it. It is the UN's declaration, not that of any other organisation - and it is just an organisation's policy that countries choose to accord with or not. Call it what you want, we all know what we're talking about. https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights

It doesn't cover "tourist visas", or visa bans, so the question is not directly applicable.

As has recently been demonstrated, decisions on visa policy rest with governments of countries, not the EU. Organisations like the UN, through parts of it, like the SC, can, through treaty, exert pressure on countries to comply with things like sanctions and visa bans, but ultimately countries decide, and usually they are applied to invdividuals. If proposed targets of visa bans and sanctions are security council members with veto, it all starts to look more like theatre than anything practicable, as is also demonstrated by recent events.

Despite the fact that the organisations like the EU and UN can't issue visa bans, the concepts in the UNDHR are about the rights of freedom to leave and enter countries. By definition, unless you only travel by sea, leaving any country implies that you enter another one. If you live in a land-locked country and you are trying to argue that you can leave your country, without entering another one, perhaps you have a space rocket or a mining machine to travel through the earth, but in most cases, leaving one jurisdiction means entering another. Anyone arguing to the contrary is possibly being disingenuously pedantic.

The "spirit" of a law, its its inferred intention. In the case of human rights axioms, the inferred intention is pretty self-evident: that people are not treated as a category and suffer penalties for things they didn't do.

In a very practical sense, there are perhaps a million Russian citizens holidaying, working, or living in the EU right now, and many will be dual nationals. The impracticability of a visa ban is multifaceted, and the infraction of human rights of such people is self-evident. There are likely to be some cases, for example with dual nationals resident in the EU with families, for whom a visa ban would certainly be in conflict with human rights principles expressed in the UNHDR/UHDR.

EU rules appear to be irrelevant on this topic, as some countries do not support the precedent of national visa-bans in peacetime.

  • 6
    This answer is entirely wrong. This policy has no regard to ethnicity. The only thing which is being discussed or considered is policy based on citizenship. No one would even know who is or isn't ethnically Russian. This information is not tracked in any government records.
    – wrod
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 3:59
  • 3
    I do not see anything "obvious". Not just no source, even no argumentation.
    – Stančikas
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 18:33
  • 1
    @ReginaldLloyd Visas are a filter for both individuals and nationality. Visa bans are very definitely not a UN matter as a general rule. There are some very particular situations where, as part of a UN-imposed sanctions regime, individuals will be subject to travel bans under UNSC resolutions. There are far more cases where individuals are banned from entering a country based on that country's laws. None of the clauses of the UDHR address freedom to enter foreign countries, even "in spirit." And your link contains nothing about discrimination against people of certain nationalities.
    – cpast
    Commented Aug 30, 2022 at 2:51
  • 2
    So the downvoting isn't "petulant." It's because this answer is wrong. It makes unsupported claims about the spirit of the UDHR, misunderstands how visa bans work and who issues them, brings up ethnicity when it is irrelevant to the question, is completely off the mark about declarations of war, ignores actual practice when it comes to visas (which do, in fact, depend on nationality), etc.
    – cpast
    Commented Aug 30, 2022 at 2:56
  • 1
    @ReginaldLloyd I hadn't mentioned this before, but the "UNDHR" does not exist. It's the UDHR. Using incorrect terms doesn't help your credibility. The UDHR addresses freedom of movement in four contexts: internal to a country, freedom to exit a country, freedom to return to your own country, and asylum. What, exactly, are you basing your claims of "the spirit" of the UDHR on? What in the UDHR supports that position? Citing things that are explicitly qualified and saying "the spirit is that these qualifications don't matter" isn't convincing.,
    – cpast
    Commented Aug 30, 2022 at 11:08

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