A Guide for Non-Governmental Organisations on the Implementation of the UN Migrant Workers’ Convention is a handbook prepared by December 18 for the International NGO Platform on the Migrant Workers ’ Convention (IPMWC). Pdf format, December 2005.
The United Nations International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families came into force on 1 July 2003. It was approved in 1990, but its entry into force required ratification by 20 states party. Thirteen years later, when Guatemala ratified the Convention on March 13, this threshold was reached.
The World Migration Report 2003 (published by the International Organization for Migration) estimates that 2.9% of the world's population -175 million people or one person in 35- are migrants largely motivated by a desire for economic betterment.
Migrants constitute an extremely vulnerable group. The fundamental human rights of migrants are too easily violated or ignored. This is most true for those who do not qualify for one of the categories (e.g. citizen, refugee, registered foreign worker, student) that normally secure people legal protection. This situation has been aggravated by fears of terrorism and economic insecurity.
Against this backdrop the Convention came into force. It was a long process that involved active international campaigning and mobilization. In 1998 a Global Campaign was launched and a Steering Committee was set up. This is an alliance of intergovernmental agencies and international church, labour, human rights, migrants and women's organizations that provides information about the Convention and promotes cooperation for universal ratification of the Convention.
Previous UN Conferences, such as the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR), also contributed to rise awareness on the Convention. The discrimination to which migrants are constantly exposed brought migrants' rights activists to the Conference.
With regards to the weaknesses of the Convention, despite the entering into force there is a low number of ratifications. No Western migrant-receiving country has ratified it, even though the majority of migrant workers live in Europe and North America. Other important receiving countries, such as India, Japan, Australia and the Gulf States, have not ratified the Convention either.
Another weak point is that migrant workers remain dependent upon the receiving State for protection of their rights. It also has been pointed out that the Convention fails to recognize the special problems of women migrant workers and child workers.
This Convention is not the first international instrument that aims at protecting migrant workers’ rights. There are two ILO conventions (from 1949 and 1975) that set standards for this special category of workers. Although many developed countries have ratified them, compliance with these previous regulations has been poor.
Nothing indicates that this situation will change with the entry into force of the UN Convention. It is, however, an additional tool that non-governmental organizations can use to their advantage in their advocacy work. One of the most delayed UN instruments is now a reality.
The implementation of the Migrant Workers Convention entails obligations both at a national level for the States that are parties to the Convention and at an international level for the Treaty Body reviewing the application of the Convention.
The Platform aims at facilitating the promotion, implementation and monitoring of the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. It is a civil society initiative to encourage and facilitate non-governmental involvement in the monitoring of the implementation of this core international human rights treaty. It is a civil society initiative to encourage and facilitate non-governmental involvement in the monitoring of the implementation of this core international human rights treaty. April 19, 2005, pdf format.
A Committee will be implemented to review the application of the Convention. This article describes how the committee will operate and contains a section that explains the role that NGOs play in the whole process.
For the purpose of reviewing the application of the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families a committee was appointed. Its first session was held from March 1-5 2004. It included a meeting with NGO representatives, where the fundamental role of civil society for the promotion of Convention and for the protection of the human rights of migrants was stressed. This report of the Committee’s meeting with NGO representatives also includes the transcription of the presentations by attending NGOs (doc format).
Call for universal ratification of the UN International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. For those States that are Parties to the Convention, there is a call on their obligation implement the Convention, while at the same time enjoining the support and participation of members of civil society and migrant organizations in monitoring its implementation.
The ILO set in place two conventions aimed at protecting the rights of migrant workers: the Migration for Employment Convention (Revised) no. 97 of 1949 and the Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention no. 143 of 1975. In this page links to the mentioned conventions are provided, as well as to other ILO standards regarding migration.
Protecting migrant workers will take some political willpower. The International Labour Organization, by adopting a multilateral framework for a rights-based approach to labour migration, will be the one to point the way. But trade union organizations can also make a vital difference. They can give migrants what they need most: a voice for their concerns and a springboard to justice and equality. The Global Union Research Network (GURN) was established in January 2004 as a follow up to the millennium debate of the Global Unions Group. After a request from the international labour movement the initiative to establish the network was taken by the ILO's Bureau for Workers' Activities (ACTRAV) in cooperation with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC), the Global Union Federations (GUFs) and the ILO's International Institute for Labour Studies (IILS). The aim of the research network is to give union organizations better access to research carried out within trade unions and allied institutions, while enabling them to exchange information on matters of joint concern and to develop the capacity to make analyses and take part in debates and policy formulation.
At the 92nd session of the International Labour Conference, which was held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva from 1-17 June, migrant workers and their advocates addressed the tripartite Committee on Migrant Workers, the committee of the Conference that is tasked to lead the general discussion on migrant workers. A Plan of Action was adopted at the end of the Conference. 2004.
A report by the International Labour Organization on labour migration points out the importance of multilateral action in regards to international norms. It emphasizes the promotion by the ILO of the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. The report also offers comprehensive information on the issue: causes and consequences, conditions of work and treatment, international regulation, etc.May 2004, pdf format.
This working paper deals with issues such as the jurisdictional conflict between the United Nations and the International Labour Organization. It was requested by the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.
Comprehensive information: how the Convention focuses on migrants rights as human rights, how it is the outcome of a long process, how it meant thirteen years of international mobilisation and myths and reality about obstacles to ratification. This kit also includes background information, a glossary and useful links.
Programme that aims at contributing to better policy-making on international migration and social integration in multicultural societies, with special focus on the perspectives for ratification and implementation of Convention.
A publication prepared by the International Labour Office (ILO), the national Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in consultation with
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (doc format).
At the sixtieth session of the Commission on Human Rights the Special Rapporteur on the of migrants highlighted the situation of labour exploitation that migrants face and said in several cases she examined these conditions were analogous to slavery. The Secretary-General and various NGOs also presented reports and statements. April 2004.
This initiative by IPS Asia aims to generate awareness, debate and analysis of migration issues through media in Asia, with particular focus on reproductive health/gender and the social, emotional cost of migration for work. It includes stories on under-reported aspects of migration.
This is an article on a study commissioned by the International Organisation for Migration. It finds that many migrants are exposed to human rights abuses, but the vulnerability of migrants to these abuses has failed to receive adequate attention. It says that “ Another constraint impeding migrants' full enjoyment of human rights is the failure of a number of countries to ratify” the Convention.
After an introduction on migrants in general, this article states that after the entering into force a huge obstacle remains: all of the countries that have signed on are developing nations that, on balance, send their citizens to work abroad.
According to this article, millions of Asia's migrant workers may have little to celebrate when the Convention, supposedly upholding their rights, comes into force, judging from poor compliance with existing international labour standards.
This article states that in the Convention “the migrant worker remains dependent upon the receiving State for protection of the rights and, alas, therein lies the rub!” It also states that the Convention fails to recognize the special problems of women migrant workers and child workers.
While the entry into force is being hailed by the ICFTU as a major breakthrough for migrant workers, the organization is concerned that none of the major immigrant “receiving” countries in North America and Europe, where 60% of the world’s migrants live, have ratified it.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on all countries which have not yet done so to sign and ratify the international treaty on the rights of migrant workers and their families, calling it "a landmark in the broader struggle for the international protection of human rights".
"It took almost thirteen years for this important instrument to become part of international law. And these years involved a lot of campaigning from among civil society organizations in all parts of the world, actively promoting and popularizing the Convention and urging their governments to ratify”, said MRI’s international coordinator.
"The Convention can make an important contribution to efforts to promote effective migration management. Protecting the rights of migrant workers is a key element of a comprehensive approach to managing migration that meets the needs of an increasingly mobile population," said IOM's Director General Brunson McKinley.
This Guide aims at enabling national or regional non-governmental organisations (NGOs),coalitions and individual organisations to effectively use the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrants Workers and Members of Their Families as a tool for the promotion and protection. Pdf format, August 2005.
At this preparatory meeting for WCAR that took place in Tehran, Iran, from 18-19 February 2001, NGOs recommended that the governments of the Asian Pacific region ratify, without reservations, and implement the Convention.
WCAR’s website on the issue. This section explains why the phenomenon of migration is related to discrimination. It states that it is necessary to better use existing mechanisms to address issues related to he human rights of migrants. One of them is the Convention.
According to this comprehensive report, the mention of the need to ratify the Convention is made in the generic Programme of Action (PoA) article on ratification (§ 78 (k). It states that governments participating in the WCAR decided against listing specific Conventions under the different sections of the Declaration and PoA. This was considered, the report claims, as a weakening of the documents by NGOs (pdf format).
Participants from 20 Asian countries gathered at the 9th Regional Conference on Migration held in Seoul, Korea, on 13-14 September 2004. The 9th RCM was organized by the Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) and its national partner, the Joint Committee for Migrant Workers in Korea (JCMK) and Asian Migrant Centre (AMC). September 2004.