Briefing on the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families at the IOM Council Meeting
by Alessio Bruni, UNHCHR
Geneva, 3 December 2002
After the statements of the previous speakers and, in particular, the statement of Gabriela Rodríguez, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants who has given an exhaustive description of both the main provisions and the raison d'être of the Migrant Workers Convention, there is little for me to add.
Perhaps, I should like to underline that by defining migrant workers and their basic rights, the Convention seeks to play a role in preventing and eliminating the exploitation of all migrant workers and members of their families throughout the entire migration process. In particular, it seeks to put an end to the illegal or clandestine recruitment and trafficking of migrant workers and to discourage their employment in an irregular or undocumented situation.
There is abundant evidence that migrants, and in particular migrant women and unaccompanied children, are often denied access to health and education. Sometimes, they are physically, psychologically and sexually abused, prevented from reuniting with their families, detained and deported in conditions non respectful of international human rights standards, and vulnerable to networks of smuggling and trafficking in persons. Moreover, the abuses confronted by migrants at all phases of the migratory process are exacerbated owing to the discrimination they frequently endure.
The Convention, when enters into force, will assist in securing a protective international mechanism of the human rights of migrants, including those in irregular situation. If States manage migratory flows in a manner that is respectful of human rights of migrants, a climate of non confrontation and a feeling of security will grow in society.
We should not forget that migrants give important and valuable economic, social and cultural contributions in both their countries of origin and countries of destination. The recognition of their rights according to the international standards established by the Convention is conducive to economic and social stability as well as cultural enrichment.
One year ago, in his message for the International Migrant Day, the Secretary- General emphasized that "in our globalizing world, growing migration is a fact of life. More than 150 million migrants -two percent of the world's population- live and work in a country other than that of their birth or citizenship. Migrant workers, refugees, asylum seekers, permanent immigrants and others are all counted in this figure.
Migrant not only help enrich the fabric of their host countries. Many of them are also unsung heroes of their home countries and families. In addition to sending valuable remittances, they bring valuable skills, knowledge and experience when they return. Yet too often, their contribution has been ignored".
The ratification of the Convention by a State will be a form of recognition of the contribution given by migrants to the welfare of society throughout the continents. At the same time the respect by a State of the provisions of the Convention will bring to it the added value of harmonious economic and social development.
As you know, the Convention needs 20 ratifications to enter into force. Nineteen instruments of ratifications or accessions have already been deposited with the Secretary-General. It may be interesting to note that out of 19 States parties to the Convention, 15 are members of the International Organization for Migration and one is observer to it. In addition, eight IOM Member States and three observers have signed the Convention.
The "competition" for becoming the 20th State party is still open. That State will be always remembered as the determining factor for projecting a vision into reality, i.e. the entry into force of the new legal mechanism for the international protection of migrants.