The UN system provides a framework and tools for the protection of the rights of migrants and their families. However, many migrants today do not benefit from it because core human rights treaties are neither universally ratified nor implemented. Furthermore, too often effective protection is not available because the actors that potentially have the best capabilities to offer protection do not live up to this promise. Rights on paper do not automatically lead to rights in practice. For this to happen rights-holders have to be aware of the fact that they too should be treated with respect and dignity and that their governments can be held accountable for the commitments they have made under international law.
The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrants Workers and Members of Their Families is also referred to as the UN Migrant Workers Convention. It is one of the 9 core international human rights treaties.
For the full text of the Convention click here. The text is also available in the following languages:
The following unofficial translations are also available:
The Convention entered into force on 2003.
International call for universal ratification of the UN MRC - Signed by 308 organisations from 58 countries!
To date, the following 46 states have ratified the UN Migrant Workers Convention:
Albania, 05.06.07 - Europe
Algeria, 21.04.05 - Africa
Argentina, 23.02.07 - Latin America
Azerbaijan, 11.01.99 - Asia
Bangladesh, 24.08.11 - Asia
Belize 14.11.01 - Latin America
Bolivia 12.10.00 - Latin America
Bosnia & Herzegovina 13.12.96 - Europe
Burkina Faso 26.11.03 - Africa
Cape Verde 16.09.97 - Africa
Chile 21.03.05 - Latin America
Colombia 24.05.95 - Latin America
Ecuador 05.02.02 - Latin America
Egypt 19.02.93 - Africa
El Salvador 14.03.03 - Latin America
Ghana 08.09.00 - Africa
Guatemala 14.03.03 - Latin America
Guinea 08.09.00 - Africa
Guyana 07.07.2010 - Latin America
Honduras 11.08.05 - Latin America
Indonesia 31.05.2012 - Asia
Jamaica 25.09.08 - Latin America
Kyrgyzstan 29.09.03 - Asia
Lesotho 16.09.05 - Africa
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya 18.06.04 - Africa
Mali 05.06.03 - Africa
Mauritania 22.01.2007 - Africa
Mexico 08.03.99 - Latin America
Morocco 21.06.93 - Africa
Nicaragua 26.10.05 - Latin America
Niger 18.03.09 - Africa
Nigeria 27.07.09 - Africa
Paraguay 23.09.08 - Latin America
Peru 14.09.05 – Latin America
Philippines 05.07.95 - Asia
Rwanda 15.12.08 - Africa
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - 29.10.10 - Latin America
Senegal 09.06.99 - Africa
Seychelles 15.12.94 - Africa
Sri Lanka 16.03.96 - Asia
Syrian Arab Republic 02.06.05 - Asia
Tajikistan 08.01.02 - Asia
Timor Leste 30.01.04 - Asia
Turkey 27.09.04 - Europe
Uganda 14.11.95 - Africa
Uruguay 15.02.01 - Latin America
To date, the following 16 states have signed but not yet ratified the UN Migrant Workers Convention:
Benin 15/09/05 - Africa
Cambodia 27.09.04 - Asia
Cameroon 15.12.09 - Africa
Comoros 22.09.00 - Africa
Congo 29.09.08 - Africa
Gabon 15.12.04 - Africa
Guinea-Bissau 12.09.00 - Africa
Liberia 22.09.04 - Africa
Montenegro 26.10.06 - Europe
Mozambique 15.03.2012 - Africa
Sao Tome and Principe 06.09.00 - Africa
Serbia 11.11.04 - Europe
Sierra Leone 15.09.00 - Africa
Togo 15.11.01 – Africa
Venezuela 04.10.2011 - Latin America
The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (CMW) is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the UN Migrant Workers Convention.
"More must be done to ensure the respect of the human rights of migrant workers and their families, be they regular or irregular, documented or undocumented. The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families established for its ratifying countries the obligation to respect the core human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrant workers and members in their State of immigration. It is a vital part of efforts to combat exploitation of migrant workers and their families."
Kofi Annan, Secretary General, United Nations
18 December 2003, International Migrant's Day
The Steering Committee of the Global Campaign for Ratification of the United Nations International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families is an alliance of intergovernmental agencies and leading international human rights, church, labour, migrant and women’s organizations that support the Convention Ratification Campaign.
Contact information for the Secretariat of the Steering Committee of the Global Campaign:
Secretary of the Committee on Migrant Workers
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
2010 is the 20th anniversary of the UN Migrant Workers Convention. The Steering Committee of the Global Campaign for Ratification summarized 12 good reasons why states should ratify this core international human rights instrument.
There are currently nine core international human rights treaties. All of them contain strong non-discriminatory clauses ensuring applicability of many provisions to migrants. When a country ratifies one of these treaties, it assumes a legal obligation to implement the rights recognized in that treaty. States Parties have an obligation to submit regular reports to the monitoring committee set up under that treaty. Governments collect information from their relevant ministries and administrative units in order to draft the initial and subsequent periodic reports. This exercise prompts them to take stock and analyse their legislation and practices in relation to a given treaty. In addition to the reporting procedure, some of the treaty bodies may perform additional monitoring functions through three other mechanisms: the inquiry procedure, the examination of inter-State complaints and the examination of individual complaints. This system of human rights monitoring is common to most of the UN human rights treaties and is operated by the treaty monitoring bodies. The different Committees of the TMB oversee and monitor the implementation of rights granted in the various conventions by the reporting of States. Committee members are nationals of States Parties to the relevant conventions. They serve on the committees in their personal capacity and not as country representatives. In elections, consideration has to be given to equitable geographical distribution as well as to the principal legal systems.
Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly Resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966. Entry into force on 3 January 1976, in accordance with article 27. With regard to migrant workers: see articles 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.
The implementation of the ICESCR by its States parties is carried out by The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), established under the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Resolution 1985/17 of 28 May 1985.
CESCR migrant focus is on working conditions. It considers that non-nationals should enjoy economic, social and cultural rights (i.e. minimum wage, health and maternal benefits, pension benefits, unemployment benefits and safe working conditions) on an equal footing with nationals. For further information on the topic see The UN Treaty Monitoring Bodies and Migrants Workers: a Samizdat.
Main CESCR’s General Comments concerning migrants:
Documents and links:
Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly Resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966. Entry into force on 23 March 1976, in accordance with article 49. With regard to migrant workers: see articles 8, 13, 14, 21, 22, 26, 27.
The Human Rights Committee (CCPR) is the body that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by its State parties.
CCPR gives attention to various forms of discrimination in the access to civil and political rights guaranteed in the Covenant affecting non-citizens in general and undocumented migrants in particular. It examines issues such as trafficking, detention, expulsion, deportation, ill-treatment by law enforcement officials and impact of antiterrorism laws. For further information on the topic see The UN Treaty Monitoring Bodies and Migrants Workers: a Samizdat.
Main CCPR’s General Comments concerning migrants:
Documents and links:
Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 34/180 of 18 December 1979. Entry into force on 3 September 1981, in accordance with article 27(1). With regard to migrant workers: see article 11.
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women’s Treaty Monitoring body is the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
CEDAW’s main issues of concern regarding women migrants are trafficking and sexual exploitation. The Committee provides a detailed analysis of the causes of vulnerability of women to traffickers and of the various measures to combat trafficking, punish perpetrators and protect victims, lists minimal labour rights women migrants should enjoy, analyzes the causes of migration and the measures towards respect of the human rights of women migrants. For further information on the topic see The UN Treaty Monitoring Bodies and Migrants Workers: a Samizdat.
Main CEDAW’s General Comments concerning migrants:
Documents and links:
Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 39/46 of 10 December 1984. Entry into force on 26 June 1987, in accordance with article 27(1). With regard to migrant workers: see articles 3 and 6.
The Committee Against Torture (CAT) is the body that monitors implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by its State parties.
CAT ‘s migrant-related issues are mostly concluding observations on European countries and on conditions of detention and removal of foreigners in an irregular situation: detention and procedures of expulsion often break the Convention, especially regarding discriminatory practices and non-refoulement clause. The Committee also expresses concerns about the difficulties faced by victims of abuse to obtain redress and adequate compensation, in particular when they are immigrants. For further information on the topic see The UN Treaty Monitoring Bodies and Migrants Workers: a Samizdat.
Main CAT’s General Comments concerning migrants:
Documents and links:
Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989. Entry into force on 2 September 1990, in accordance with article 49. With regard to migrant workers: see articles 7, 9, 10, 15, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its State parties. It also monitors implementation of two optional protocols to the Convention, on involvement of children in armed conflict and on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
The main concern of the Committee is discrimination in access to adequate social services, in particular health and education, for migrant children, notably for irregular migrant children. Other concerns of CRC are trafficking, the issue of birth registration for undocumented migrant children and children born of foreign parents, child labour and economic exploitation, the situation of migrant children in immigrant reception centres and in detention, children left with relatives or institution by parents that emigrate. The Committee often refers to the situation of vulnerability of migrant children and unaccompanied minors and expresses concern at the legal standards, administrative frameworks and procedures that fail to ensure their protection and insists most on a good dissemination of information about the Convention. For further information on the topic see The UN Treaty Monitoring Bodies and Migrants Workers: a Samizdat.
Main CRC’s General Comments concerning migrants:
Documents and links:
Adopted and opened for signature and ratification by General Assembly resolution 2106 (XX) of 21 December 1965. Entry into force 4 January 1969, in accordance with article 19. With regard to migrant workers: see article 5.
The implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by its State parties is monitored by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
CERD conclusions deal first with growing racism and intolerance of host populations towards foreigners and it recommends that States adopt various measures and criminalize violence. Secondly, the Committee focuses on the enjoyment of the rights set forth by the Convention by foreigners, with increasing attention to the specific case of migrant workers, and especially on the right to security of person under Article 5b of CERD and economic, social and cultural rights under Article 5e. According to the Committee, discrimination against migrants is noted in the areas of education; employment and housing; access to public services; land property; social security benefits. The Committee affirms that migrant workers should enjoy the same labour protection, equality before the law and equality in the exercise of the rights and freedoms as national workers. For further information see The UN Treaty Monitoring Bodies and Migrants Workers: a Samizdat.
Main CERD’s General Comments concerning migrants:
Documents and links:
Adopted on 13 December 2006 during the sixty-first session of the General Assembly by resolution A/RES/61/106. Entry into force 3 May 2008, in accordance with article 45(1). With regard to migrant workers: see article 18.
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is the body that monitors implementation of the Convention by the States Parties.
Documents and links:
The Universal Human Rights Index provides instant access for all countries to human rights information from the United Nations system. The index is based on the observations and recommendations of the following international expert bodies:
You can access the information by country, by rights and by body. Click here.
Searching for Treaty Body documents can be done on this site
The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) offers up-to-date information on the activities of the Treaty Monitoring Bodies. It published a Simple Guide to the UN Treaty Bodies, that provide human rights defenders and their organisations with a broad overview of the UN human rights treaty body system and other useful information, such as the relationship between the treaty bodies and other UN human rights mechanisms, a glossary and e-resources for further reference. The Simple Guide is available in English and French (last update July 2010).
The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the UN system made up of 47 States responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe. The Council was created by the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 with the main purpose of addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.
One year after holding its first meeting, on 18 June 2007, the Council adopted its “Institution-building package” [Word file] providing elements to guide it in its future work. Among the elements is the new Universal Periodic Review mechanism which will assess the human rights situations in all 192 UN Member States. Other features include a new Advisory Committee which serves as the Council’s “think tank” providing it with expertise and advice on thematic human rights issues and the revised Complaints Procedure mechanism which allows individuals and organizations to bring complaints about human rights violations to the attention of the Council. The Human Rights Council also continues to work closely with the UN Special Procedures established by the former Commission on Human Rights and assumed by the Council.
Study of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on challenges and best practices in the implementation of the international framework for the protection of the rights of the child in the context of migration, 5 July 2010 - French version - Spanish version -
Human Rights Council considers reports on Internally displaced persons, violence against women, and sale of children, Concludes Debate on Human Rights of Minorities, Migrants and Indigenous People, 20 March 2007
"Special Procedures" is the name given to the mechanisms established by the Commission on Human Rights and then assumed by the Human Rights Council to address specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Mandate holders, that can be individual (called "Special Rapporteur", "Special Representative of the Secretary-General" or "Independent Expert") or working groups usually composed of five members, have to examine, monitor, advise and publicly report on human rights situations in specific countries or territories (country mandates), or on major phenomena of human rights violations worldwide (thematic mandates). Currently, there are 31 thematic and 8 country mandates. Mandate-holders are established and defined by the resolution creating them, they serve in their personal capacity and have an independent status (For more information on this topic see Fact sheet N.27 - under revision). Mandate holders also carry out country visits to investigate the situation of human rights: they normally send a letter to the Government requesting to visit the country, and, if the Government agrees, an invitation to visit is extended, but some countries have also issued "standing invitations", which means that they are, in principle, prepared to receive a visit from any special procedures mandate holder.
With Resolution 5/1 (Institution-building of the United Nations Human Rights Council) of 18 June 2007, the Human Rights Council adopted provisions on the selection of mandate holders and reviewed all special procedures mandates. In June 2007, the Council also adopted Resolution 5/2 (Conduct for special procedures mandate holders). At the Annual Meeting of special procedures in June 2008, special procedures mandate holders adopted their Manual, setting guidelines on the working methods of special procedures, and an Internal Advisory Procedure to review practices and working methods, by which the Code of Conduct and other relevant documents, including the Manual. At its 8th session, the Human Rights Council adopted a Presidential statement concerning the terms of special procedures mandate holders and their compliance with the Code of Conduct.
Links and Resources:
Annual Reports, click here
Fifteen year review document, clik here
E-mail contact address: email@example.com
. Ms. Rashida Manjoo (South Africa), since August 2009
· Dr. Yakin Ertürk (Turkey), August 2003 - July 2009
· Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy (Sri Lanka), 1994 - July 2003
The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants was created in 1999 by the Commission on Human Rights, pursuant to resolution 1999/44. The mandate was extended for a further three years period by the Commission on Human Rights in 2005, at its 62nd session (Res. 2005/47).
The mandate of the Special Rapporteur covers all countries, irrespective of whether a State has ratified the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, of 18 December 1990.
Submitting information to the Special Rapporteur - click here
Annual Reports of the Special Rapporteur - click here
Country visits by the Special Rapporteur - click here
Annual Reports, click here
Please send an email to SRtrafficking@ohchr.org if you would like to submit information to the Special Rapporteur.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.
The UPR was created through the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by resolution 60/251, which established the Human Rights Council itself. It is a cooperative process which, by 2011, will have reviewed the human rights records of every country. Currently, no other universal mechanism of this kind exists. The UPR is one of the key elements of the new Council which reminds States of their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The ultimate aim of this new mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur.
Click here for the UPR-related section on the site of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
For further info on the UPR process check the following site: UPR-Info.org
The Global Migration Group (GMG) is an inter-agency group bringing together heads of agencies to promote the wider application of all relevant international and regional instruments and norms relating to migration, and to encourage the adoption of more coherent, comprehensive and better coordinated approaches to the issue of international migration. The GMG is particularly concerned with improving the overall effectiveness of its members and other stakeholders in capitalizing upon the opportunities and responding to the challenges presented by international migration.
ILO, the UN specialized agency on labour issues, has been dealing with labour migration since 1919. It has pioneered international Conventions to guide migration policy and protection of migrant workers. All major sectors of ILO - standards, employment, social protection and social dialogue - work on labour migration within its overarching framework of 'decent work for all'. ILO adopts a rights-based approach to labour migration and promotes tripartite participation (governments, employers and workers) in migration policy. It provides advisory services to member states, promotes international standards, provides a tripartite forum for consultations, serves as a global knowledge base, and provides technical assistance and capacity-building to constituents. ILO has recently developed a multilateral framework on labour migration to guide its constituents in labour migration policy.
Special section on labour migration on the ILO site.
The Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the UN Secretariat is the primary source of information on matters related to international migration and development for the General Assembly, ECOSOC and its functional commissions. UNDESA's activities in this area are part of its overall responsibilities for the analysis of development prospects globally, and aim at providing the foundation for the policy debate on maximising the benefits of international migration for development. They include providing objective analyses of the causes and consequences of international migration; compiling, analyzing and disseminating statistics on international migration; working to improve the availability and comparability of those statistics; and, in collaboration with the Regional Commissions, monitoring national and regional policies on international migration.
For information on migration-related issues visit UN DESA - Population Division
UNDP's aim is to maximize the developmental benefits of migration for poor countries, and mitigate any negative consequences. UNDP country offices provide capacity development support to governments that wish to develop pro-poor, prodevelopment and human rights-based migration strategies, as part of their broader MDG-based national development strategies. Particular attention is given to the efficiency and use of remittances, retaining key skills, improving the participation of diasporas, strengthening local governance and investment in education. Within the international debate on migration, UNDP advocates for a focus on sustainable human development and protecting the rights of migrants, as well as progress on the GATS Mode 4 negotiations on the temporary movement of labour.
Human Development Report 2009: Overcoming Barriers - Human Mobility and Development
UNESCO emphasises the human face of migration and addresses the implications of the movement of people in its fields of competence. These include: the migrationeducation nexus and the challenges raised by brain drain/gain, student mobility, and the international recognition of qualifications; the migration-development nexus, with a particular emphasis on the development of knowledge diasporas through the use of ICTs; the impact of environmental trends and climatic change on forced migration; the cultural integration of migrants in host societies, with particular attention to the balance between social cohesion and the respect for cultural diversity; and the research-policy nexus through the creation of research networks and of innovative platforms enabling exchanges between researchers and policy-makers. It does so by cooperating with a wide range of partners, including intergovernmental organisations, civil society groups and universities.
For UNESCO's International Migration Programme click here