What is “No Borders”?


The name of our group is Calais Migrant Solidarity. But we are also widely known, particularly amongst people in Calais, as “No Borders”. This sometimes causes a bit of confusion: the thing is, really, “No Borders” isn’t a group or organisation, it’s an idea.

Calais Migrant Solidarity started in 2009. It was a project that came out of the “Calais No Border Camp” of that summer, in which hundreds of people from across Europe and further afield came to camp on the outskirts of the town, take action against the border and make connections with people without papers here. Other “No Border Camps” have been held over the years at important border points such as Lesvos, or at centres of the European Border Regime such as Brussels and Frankfurt. And there are various groups that choose to use the name “No Borders”, like No Borders Morocco or the “permanent No Border camp” at Ventimiglia. Some of these groups and individuals may have worked together, others not. There is no one No Borders organisation: anyone can use this name if they share the basic idea.

And the idea is pretty simple, it’s in the name: we are against borders. Borders create misery and death. They are a cruel fiction, a weapon of divide and rule. They serve the rich, who use them to protect the wealth hoarded by colonialism and capitalism, and to turn the rest of us against each other. (If you’re a millionaire, of course, you have no problem crossing borders at all.) In fact, borders don’t really stop that many poor people from getting into rich countries. And maybe that’s not really the point at all. Borders create an illusion of control, while setting up poor migrants as a cheap labour force of “illegals”, who can be both easily exploited and easily made into scapegoats.

Is a world of no borders possible? Is a world without tyranny, exploitation and oppression possible? Maybe not in our lifetimes, maybe never at all. But should that stop us from fighting against these things where we can?

For further reading, here is a No Borders Manifesto which was not written by our group.