Studies and reports continue to highlight the global character of international migration and therefore the importance of VIVAT International involvement in this issue.  Increasingly, migrant workers – documented and undocumented – become victims of a broad range of human rights abuses by various actors during the migration process. The growing prominence of International Migrant’s Day (18 December), as well as the large number of conferences and publications dedicated to this subject, demonstrates that migration is now a central human rights issue. While this trend is positive, increased vigilance is needed to ensure that migration policies and practices are framed within a rights-based approach.

The UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (MWC)

VIVAT International is actively engaged in campaigning for the ratification of the MWC, the first legally-binding international instrument to achieve the full range of human rights for all migrant workers and members of their families. The Convention, which entered into force on 1 July 2003, has only received 34 ratifications to date (The United States has yet to ratify this treaty). The need for mobilization is therefore urgent to ensure the realization of the rights the convention spells out for migrant workers.

The Convention….

  • Addresses the situation of vulnerability in which migrant workers and members of their families frequently find themselves.
  • Views migrant workers as people more than mere laborers or economic entities.
  • Provides, for the first time, clear international definitions of ‘the migrant worker’, categories of migrant workers, and members of their families.
  • Guarantees minimum universal human rights standards for all migrant workers, both documented and undocumented. Further, rights are extended to documented migrant workers and members of their families, notably in the equality of treatment with nationals, and in employment in a number of areas.
  • Promotes inter-state collaboration to prevent and eliminate exploitation, as well as, sanctions for violence against migrant workers or members of their families.
  • Encourages states to ensure their legislation matches recognized international standards.

Key Figures

  • Migration is increasing: Between 1980 and 2000, the number of migrants in developed countries more than doubled, from 48 to 110 million, while the number of migrants in developing countries grew from 52 to 65 million.
  • Gender dimensions in migration: In 2000, the number of migrant women exceeded for the first time the number of migrant men in Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, Oceania, Europe and the former Soviet Union. In Africa and Asia, migrant men were in the majority.
  • Asia has the largest number of migrants with irregular status (without papers): up to 20 million in India alone. Between 10 and 15 per cent of Europe’s 56 million migrants have irregular status, and every year, half a million undocumented migrants arrive in the European Union.
  • The annual value of formally transferred remittances (money migrants send back to their home country) in 2004 was about $150 billion, a 50 per cent increase in just five years.

The leading recipients of remittances in 2004 were Mexico ($16 billion), India ($9.9 billion) and the Philippines ($8.5 billion), although remittances as a share of GDP are much higher in smaller countries such as Jordan (23 per cent), Lesotho (27 per cent) and Tonga (37 per cent).

(Source: Migration in an interconnected world: new directions for action, 2005 Report of the Global Commission on International Migration)

Antislavery International
December 18
Human Rights Watch
International Catholic Migration Commission
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
International Federation of Human Rights Leagues
International Labor Organization
International Organization for Migration
Migrants Rights International
UNESCO – International Migration Program
UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families
ILO Convention No 97 Migration for Employment (Revised)
ILO Convention No 143 Migrant Workers
(Supplementary Provisions)

How can I help?

  • Find out your country’s position on the UN Convention on Migrant Workers and send a letter to politicians if your country has yet to ratify/enforce the treaty;
  • Keep us informed of cases where migrants’ rights are not respected.
  • Be aware of the latest developments on migration issues, by visiting the December 18 website regularly. This site provides updated news at the international, regional and national level in different languages;
  • Celebrate International Migrant’s Day on 18 December with migrants living in your area.
  • Learn more about the UN Convention on the Protection of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (MWC)
  • Become involved in migration organizations in your country

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