For any country, the best long-run solution to unemployment and poverty is sustained national economic growth — which will generate rewarding jobs at home so that fewer people will need to look for work abroad. Nevertheless, for the foreseeable future many countries in Asia and the Pacific will rely on the opportunities afforded by international migration — which can help reduce levels of unemployment while also generating significant amounts of foreign exchange through remittances. As a result, a number of Asian countries have made efforts to promote overseas employment. At the same time, destination countries have been recruiting workers for particular employment niches that cannot be filled by national workforces.
The ILO is the only international body with a mandate for international labour migration. Our chief function is to set international standards and arrive at other forms of agreement. The most recent of these is the Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration – which comprises a set of principles and best practices that have been formally vetted by our constituents.
The ILO is also unique in that it is a tripartite organization, representing governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations. It can thus help build consensus among the social partners in countries of origin and destination, to develop the policies and programmes that will allow them best to govern labour migration. In this way countries can try to ensure that migrant workers do not displace national workers and are not subjected to unfair treatment or abuse.
The ILO can also offer a wealth of information on international migration, as well as technical assistance to countries on many different issues, from training to social security. As an international organization, ILO is also able to foster networking opportunities between governments, employers’ organizations, trade unions and organizations of migrant workers.