59th Session

Item 14a: Specific Groups and Individuals; Migrant workers

IMADR, ISP, ICFTU supported by OIM, UNESCO and ILO

As Members of The Steering Committee of the Global Campaign for the 1990 International Convention.

As members of Steering Committee, we would like to express our great satisfaction for the upcoming entry into force of the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrants Workers and Members of their Families on 1st July 2003 after receiving 21 ratifications. This day should be celebrated in a proper manner, taking into account the vital role played by the civil society organisations in advancing the cause of migrants human rights and in promoting wider ratification of the 1990 Convention.

It will encourage the international community to understand the question of migration as a question of human rights and not only as an economic, political or national security question. We would like to thank the 21 countries which have became state party to this instrument, and in doing so having given back hope to the million migrants workers who have their rights denied. More than 175 millions of migrants, migrants workers, refugees, asylum seekers, permanents immigrants and others are living and working in a foreign country.

The Steering Committee is convinced that these countries will be the precursor for best practice in terms of protection and respect of migrants workers rights at national level, as well as the best defenders of the rights of migrants workers at the international level. This is a fundamental step that gives to the Steering Committee the feeling to be less isolated and better provided for working for an universal ratification of the Convention. It is the purpose of the Steering Committee: a unique alliance of intergovernmental agencies; IOM, ILO, HCHCR, UNESCO and leading international organizations such as faith based, trade unions, human rights, migrants and women Organisations. The Steering Committee provides information about the Convention and its legal application in order to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers and their families during the entire migration process. Addressing fundamental rights such as equal treatment between national and non-national on the labour market and at the workplace, the right to health care, to adequate housing, to education and also the protection against arbitrary detention, this Convention will ensure social cohesion and better integration of migrants. The Convention provides a definition of these rights and on those who are concerned by these rights (like cross-border workers, seasonal workers, seafarers working on a ship registered in a foreign country, workers of installations offshore which are under a state jurisdiction other than their own, travellers, workers employed for a specific project and autonomous workers).

The Steering Committee read with interest the various reports submitted by G. Rodriguez, Special Rapporteur; it supports her work and encourages States that has not yet done so to invite her or to respond to her inquiries.

The Convention which will enter into force on July 1st is an complementary instrument to other international standards in the area, such as ILO Convention 97 and 143, which provide for equal treatment in employment conditions, salaries, Social Security and trade unions rights. Even though some countries can find it difficult to become state parties to this Convention, having ratified the ILO Conventions should show their good will in order to protect and promote migrants workers rights.

The migration phenomenon is all the more actual. Europe - on the verge of enlarging its borders - will become at the same time a region of origin, transit and destination. A common policy among the States in matters of migration and protection of migrant workers cannot be overlooked. Various forthcoming discussions will be relevant (the general discussion on migration at the ILO International Labour Conference in 2004, the specifics work of IOM, the UNESCO work on migrant rights and on the ratification of the Convention in the different parts of the world), added to ongoing mobilisation of the civil society, in helping States to make progress to achieve their responsibility and obligations in this matter. Important is to prevent exploitation of migrants workers, regardless their status, as well as to help victims of illegal or clandestine recruitment or trafficking. All migrants should be considered as fundamental contributors to the economic development of their country of origin as well as the receiving country.

This is the wish of the intergovernmental organisations and non governmental organizations actively involved in the Steering Committee and we believe that is also the wish of the UN General Secretary, who, having placed migration among this year's priorities, has specifically asked for a better and strengthen inter-agency cooperation on this issue.