- International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families
Based on the growing number of migrant workers worldwide and the migratory trends of their exploitation, the UN adopted a Convention which would improve the conditions of international migration. The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families or the UN Migrant Workers Convention was adopted by the General Assembly on December 18th 1990 and entered into the force in July 2003. It is “the most comprehensive international instrument to date to provide legal protection for migrants” and is one of seven core international human rights treaties established by the United Nations (UNESCO). The main objective of the convention is to promote the respect for and protect the human rights of migrants in the event of exploitation. In addition, the Convention is a response to xenophobic violence and racism towards migrants. The Convention defines a migrant worker as someone who is going to be, has been, or currently is working in a state where he/she is not a national. Their family members are also defined as those who are married to migrants or those who maintain a relationship with them that produces the same effects as marriage. The Convention does apply to refugees.
Currently UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) encourages the ratification of the convention by all states. Thus far 44 states in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia have ratified and are legally bound by the UN Migrant Workers Convention. Those include Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Lesotho, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Uganda, Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Uruguay, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Timor Leste, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Turkey.
These states are bound by the Convention to provide migrant workers and their families with basic freedoms, the right to a fair trial, to privacy, to equality with nationals, to move freely throughout the country, to access education and housing, to transfer their earnings to their home country, to participate in cultural activities and to access information. In addition, the Convention provides migrant workers with protection against exploitation in respect of paying rent and the right to be temporarily absent “without effect on their authorization to stay or work.” Fifteen states have signed but not ratified the Convention, meaning they are “obliged to refrain, in good faith, from acts that would” go against it but are not legally bound to do so (EU). Migrant-receiving Western states have yet to ratify the Convention.