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Statement by Committee on Migrant Workers on Migrant workers’ rights: 10 years of progress but huge challenges remain

GENEVA (4 July 2013) - Ten years ago this week, the International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICRMW) entered into force. The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families celebrates this and recalls that all migrant workers are, first and foremost, human beings with inalienable rights. They enjoy protection under the international human rights system, regardless of their nationality or immigration status.

Migrants are not commodities nor are they just economic or political actors. They are producers and drivers of societal change. Throughout the world migrants are best placed to contribute to society when their rights are respected.

In an area of policy that many have long considered too sensitive, the ICRMW has so far been ratified by forty-six countries, including countries of origin, transit and destination. As globalisation changes the face of migration, States Parties who were countries of origin when they ratified now find themselves dealing with the realities of migrants travelling through their territory or indeed being a destination. They realise that, in addition to providing a framework for state action in relation to migrants, the ICRMW is a helpful tool to deal with questions about international migration.

The Committee celebrates the advances within the global migration debate since the ICRMW was drafted and the shift in perceptions. Human beings are now recognized as being at the core of migration, no longer seen as merely economic agents.  It is only through the protection and respect of the human rights of all migrants that migrant workers are able to contribute to the economic, social and human development of both their countries of origin and host countries. The Committee recalls that the universal protection of human rights, particularly workers’ rights, is the best strategy to prevent abuses and address the vulnerability that migrant workers face. The Committee thus urges all states to ratify the Convention.


The ICRMW does not create new standards for migrants different from those provided by general human rights law. It does not oblige States to regularise the situation of irregular migrant workers or reach above general international human rights standards which protect all human beings, but it does give a specific framework for regulating international migration based on human rights and due process guarantees. Irregular migrants have rights under all human rights instruments, not just ICRMW and refusing to ratify the Convention will not release states from the obligation to provide fundamental standards of protection to all migrants regardless of their immigration status.

ICRMW is one of the core international human rights instruments, and is firmly grounded in the principles and standards of the wider human rights framework.  ICRMW provides guidance to States on a range of measures related to migration governance based on human-rights which include the dismantling of social barriers that obstruct the full participation of everyone, including migrants, in economic and social life. 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 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families by its State parties.

For more information http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cmw/index.htm