GENEVA (7 April 2014) –UN experts have issued a renewed appeal to all countries to sign up to a landmark treaty on the rights of migrant workers that came into force some 10 years ago.
“Forty-seven countries have ratified the treaty but that number is far too low given the abuse and exploitation that migrant workers continue to suffer. It is also far too low given the contribution migrant workers make to both their home and host countries,” said Francisco Carrion Mena, Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families.
The International Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families (ICRMW) took 23 years to come into force, the longest of any of the 10 core international human rights instruments, and has registered the slowest rate of ratification. No major developed countries that are destinations for migrant workers, including the US, EU member states and Gulf countries, have ratified it, even though it reflects rights set out in the other core human rights treaties.
“The treaty doesn’t create new rights or establish additional ones for migrant workers. What it does do is give specific form to standards that protect all human beings so that they are meaningful within the context of migration,” said Mr. Carrion Mena.
The Committee’s renewed call to all states to join the treaty came during discussions in Geneva on Monday on protecting migrant workers from exploitation.
More than 200 million people worldwide are international migrants; of these some 30 million are estimated to be irregular migrants. According to the International Labour Organisation, almost 21 million people are trapped in forced labour.
“The Convention is the best strategy to prevent abuses and to address the vulnerability that migrant workers face. That’s why we urge all States to consider signing and ratifying the Convention,” Mr Carrion Mena said.
The CMW, composed of 14 independent human rights experts, oversees implementation of the Convention by States parties. Many of the 47 States parties are not only nations of origin but now also transit and destination countries given the changing patterns of migration.