International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families

The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families is a United Nations multilateral treaty governing the protection of migrant workers and families. Signed on 18 December 1990, it entered into force on 1 July 2003 after the threshold of 20 ratifying States was reached in March 2003. The Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW) monitors implementation of the convention, and is one of the seven UN-linked human rights treaty bodies. The convention applies as of August 2021 in 56 countries.[1]

International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
Signataires de la Convention internationale sur la protection des droits de tous les travailleurs migrants et des membres de leur famille.PNG
States parties and signatories to the treaty:
  Signed and ratified
  Acceded or succeeded
  Only signed
Signed18 December 1990[1]
LocationNew York
Effective1 July 2003[1]
Condition20 ratifications[1]
DepositarySecretary-General of the United Nations
LanguagesArabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish


"It is time to take a more comprehensive look at the various dimensions of the migration issue, which now involves hundreds of millions of people, and affects countries of origin, transit and destination. We need to understand better the causes of international flows of people and their complex interrelationship with development." United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, from his report on strengthening the Organization, 9 November 2002.[2]


The United Nations Convention constitutes a comprehensive international treaty regarding the protection of migrant workers' rights. It emphasizes the connection between migration and human rights, which is increasingly becoming a crucial policy topic worldwide. The Convention aims at protecting migrant workers and members of their families; its existence sets a moral standard, and serves as a guide and stimulus for the promotion of migrant rights in each country.

In the Preamble, the Convention recalls conventions by International Labour Organization on migrant workers: Migration for Employment Convention (Revised), 1949, Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention, 1975, and on forced labour; Forced Labour Convention and Abolition of Forced Labour Convention as well as international human rights treaties including Convention against Discrimination in Education.

The primary objective of the Convention is to foster respect for migrants' human rights. Migrants are not only workers, they are also human beings. The Convention does not create new rights for migrants but aims at guaranteeing equality of treatment, and the same working conditions, including in case of temporary work, for migrants and nationals. The Convention innovates because it relies on the fundamental notion that all migrants should have access to a minimum degree of protection. The Convention recognizes that regular migrants have the legitimacy to claim more rights than irregular immigrants, but it stresses that irregular migrants must see their fundamental human rights respected, like all human beings.

In the meantime, the Convention proposes that actions be taken to eradicate clandestine movements, notably through the fight against misleading information inciting people to migrate irregularly, and through sanctions against traffickers and employers of undocumented migrants.

Article 7 of this Convention protects the rights of migrant workers and their families regardless of "sex, race, colour, language, religion or conviction, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, nationality, age, economic position, property, marital status, birth, or other status".[3] And Article 29 protects rights of child of migrant worker to name, to regitration of birth and to a nationality.

This Convention is also recalled by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the Preamble.[4]

Parties to the conventionEdit

The Convention required a minimum of 20 ratifications before it could enter into force. When El Salvador and Guatemala ratified it on 14 March 2003, this threshold was reached.

As of December 2019, the following 55 states have ratified the Convention: Albania, Argentina, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Congo-Brazzaville, East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uganda, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

In addition, several countries have signed the Convention but not yet ratified it. This means that their government has expressed the intention of adhering to the Convention but is not yet bound to do so by international law. These countries are: Armenia, Benin, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Gabon, Haiti, Liberia, Palau, Serbia and Montenegro (now applies separately to Serbia and Montenegro), Sierra Leone, and Togo.

As of August 2021 countries that have ratified the Convention are primarily countries of origin of migrants (such as Mexico, Morocco, and the Philippines). For these countries, the Convention is an important vehicle to protect their citizens living abroad. In the Philippines, for example, ratification of the Convention took place in a context characterized by several cases of Filipino workers being mistreated abroad: such cases hurt the Filipino population and prompted the ratification of the Convention. However, these countries are also transit and destination countries, and the Convention delineates their responsibility to protect the rights of migrants in their territory, and they have done little to protect those at home.[5][6]

No migrant-receiving state in Western Europe or North America has ratified the Convention. Other important receiving countries, such as Australia, Arab states of the Persian Gulf, India and South Africa have not ratified the Convention.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f "13. International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. New York, 18 December 1990". UN Treaty base. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  2. ^ "United Nations Maintenance Page". Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  3. ^ Kinnear, Karen L. (2011). Women in Developing Countries: A Reference Handbook. ABC-CLIO. p. 184. ISBN 9781598844252.
  4. ^ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Preamble,(d)
  5. ^ Palmer, Wayne; Missbach, Antje (4 May 2019). "Enforcing labour rights of irregular migrants in Indonesia". Third World Quarterly. 40 (5): 908–925. doi:10.1080/01436597.2018.1522586. ISSN 0143-6597.
  6. ^ Palmer, Wayne (2018). "Back Pay for Trafficked Migrant Workers: An Indonesian Case Study". International Migration. 56 (2): 56–67. doi:10.1111/imig.12376.

External linksEdit