International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
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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.
"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.
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".
This Convention is also recalled by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the Preamble.
State of ratifications and signaturesEdit
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 October 2018, the following 54 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, 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, Sao Tome and Principe, 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.
Thus far, 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 on their territory.
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.
- Kinnear, Karen L. (2011). Women in Developing Countries: A Reference Handbook. ABC-CLIO. p. 184. ISBN 9781598844252.
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Preamble,(d)
- Full text of the Convention (English)
- Full text of the Convention (Spanish)
- Signatures and ratifications
- The Committee on Migrant Workers (which monitors the implementation of the convention)
- The 2002 International Migration Report published by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs/Population Division
- Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants
- UNESCO Programme on International Migration and Multicultural Policies: Project on the UN Convention on Migrants’ Rights
- International Labour Organization
- International Organization for Migration
- Migrants Rights International
- Migrant Forum in Asia
- Declaration on the Rights of Expelled and Deported Persons