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Economic, social and cultural rights of migrants and access to services

OHCHR and migration

The human rights protections contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the core international human rights instruments apply to all human beings, without discrimination, including all migrants, regardless of their migration status. Yet, many migrants tend to live and work in the shadows, afraid to complain, denied rights and freedoms that we take for granted, and disproportionately vulnerable to discrimination and marginalization.

In law, policy and in practice, many migrants, particularly those in an irregular situation, are often denied access to such fundamental human rights as the right to health, to education, to an adequate standard of living, to social security, and to just and favourable conditions of work. Some of the legal and practical obstacles that prevent migrants from effectively enjoying their rights, include lack of identification or proof of residence, financial barriers, lack of information, linguistic difficulties and fear to be reported to immigration enforcement bodies which can result in detention or deportation.

OHCHR’s publication on the economic, social, and cultural rights of migrants in an irregular situation provides an understanding of the scope and content of relevant international and regional human rights law; describes the various legal, policy and practical barriers that irregular migrants face in having their human rights protected and fulfilled; and offers examples of promising practice.

OHCHR continuously monitors the human rights situations of migrants, and provides technical advice to States and other stakeholders seeking to implement human rights-based migration policies that respect, protect, and fulfil migrants’ economic, social and cultural rights through ensuring safe access to services. OHCHR has also contributed to the development of policy guidance and indicators for implementing and measuring progress towards the realization of migrants’ human rights.

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