The Global Campaign for Ratification of the Convention on Rights of
Around our globe today, millions of
people are on the move - living or trying to live in countries not their own. In
some cases, this movement is voluntary. People move across borders for work,
education or family reasons. In many more cases, the migration is forced, as
people flee civil unrest and war, or search for adequate agricultural land or
employment simply for survival.
In recent years, the displacement of people has accelerated. At the same
time, the typical response to migrants and other displaced people has
deteriorated from acceptance and assistance to hostility and rejection.
The fundamental human rights of migrants are too easily violated or ignored.
This is most true for those who do not qualify within one of the categories
(e.g. citizen, refugee, registered foreign worker, student) that normally secure
people legal protection. The violation of their rights contributes to increasing
social disintegration and declining respect for the rule of law.
There is more need than ever before to promote the development and
application of international standards which underline a fundamental fact: migrants'
rights are human rights.
Recognizing the need to explicitly define and uphold the human rights of
migrants, the United Nations created the International Convention on the
Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
It was approved on 18 December 1990 by the UN General Assembly.
Why is the International Convention significant?
The importance of this Convention may
be highlighted by these six points:
- Migrant workers are viewed as more than laborers or economic entities.
They are social entities with families and accordingly have rights,
including that of family reunification.
- It recognizes that migrant workers and members of their families, being
non-nationals residing in states of employment or in transit, are
unprotected. Their rights are often not addressed by the national
legislation of receiving states or by their own states of origin. Therefore,
it is the responsibility of the international community, through the UN, to
provide measures of protection.
- It provides, for the first time, an international definition of migrant
worker, categories of migrant workers, and members of their families. It
also establishes international standards of treatment through the
elaboration of the particular human rights of migrant workers and members of
their families. These standards would serve to uphold basic human rights
of other vulnerable migrants as well as migrant workers.
- Fundamental human rights are extended to all migrant workers, both
documented and undocumented, with additional rights being recognized for
documented migrant workers and members of their families, notably equality
of treatment with nationals of states of employment in a number of legal,
political, economic, social and cultural areas.
- The International Convention seeks to play a role in preventing and
eliminating the exploitation of all migrant workers and members of their
families, including an end to their illegal or clandestine movements and to
irregular or undocumented situations.
- It attempts to establish minimum standards of protection for migrant
workers and members of their families that are universally acknowledged. It
serves as a tool with which to encourage those States lacking national
standards to bring their legislation in closer harmony with recognized
Why is a global campaign for ratification necessary?
Twenty UN member States must ratify the
Convention for it to “enter into force”. Eleven years after adoption by the UN,
the possibility of obtaining these ratifications is close. Nineteen States have
now ratified or acceded to the Convention: Azerbaijan, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina,
Cape Verde, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Mexico, Morocco, Philippines,
Senegal, Seychelles, Sri Lanka Tajikistan, Uganda and Uruguay. Eleven states have signed the
Convention, the first step towards ratification: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Chile, Comoros,
Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Paraguay, Sao Tome & Principe, Sierra Leone,
Togo and Turkey.
The decision of the UN to draft and adopt this Convention was a strong
statement of international consensus concerning the need for greater protection
of the rights of migrants. Now, that decision must be implemented through
national ratification and legislation.
Governments need to be convinced that ratification of the Convention is
necessary. This will be achieved only by building awareness about the Convention
with government officials, diplomats, politicians, NGOs and the public-at-large,
nationally and internationally.
How is the global campaign organized and carried out?
A global campaign for entry into force
of this Convention is ongoing. It includes coordinated activities at
international and national levels to build awareness about the International
Convention. Its main purpose is to promote the ratification of, or accession to,
the International Convention by a large number of States, and for the
incorporation of its standards in national laws and practices.
A formal campaign steering committee generates basic campaign strategies and
materials, but the success of the campaign is grounded in its purpose being
adopted and promoted by hundreds of organizations and people who may or may not
be formally affiliated to the campaign.
Campaigning for ratification requires political and awareness-building
elements directed towards building endorsement of the Convention from a broad
cross-section of society, including public officials, political parties, trade
unions, religious groups, women's organizations and so on.
What to do?
- Join with others to form a national ratification committee or coalition to
implement a national campaign. Involve the widest possible alliance of
concerned national organizations and grassroots groups: human rights,
church, trade union, migrant, civil rights, women, refugee, others.
- Design a national ratification strategy including public education,
print-radio-television media, building support in governmental agencies,
lobbying of politicians and governments.
- Identify, cultivate contacts and advocate with groups and individuals,
including political parties, politicians and government employees.
- Pursue discussions with political leaders and governmental officials to
promote political support for the Convention.
- Develop advocacy contacts with congressional/parliamentary delegates and
staff, and identify experienced "lobbyists" and/or techniques to
help draft, introduce, promote and pass legislation.
- Conduct seminars and other training programs for national and local
non-governmental organizations about awareness building, implementation and
monitoring of the Convention.
- Raise funds for national campaigning, and for international and regional
- Create a presence of migrant issues in national media by cultivating
contacts with reporters and editors, providing leads and ideas for stories,
offering background briefings and materials, etc.
For more information on the campaign,
Responsible Officer for the Secretariat of the Steering Committee
c/o Migrants Rights International (MRI)
c.p. 135, 15 Route des Morillons
1211 Geneva 20
Switzerland c.p. 135
Tel. no.: +41 22 917 78 17
Fax no.: +41 22 917 78 10
Human Rights Watch
International Catholic Migration Commission
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
International Labour Office
International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism
International Organization for Migration
Migrants Forum in Asia
Migrants Rights International
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Public Services International
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
World Council of Churches