The ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers
- Responsible Organizations: The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) (International Organisation)
- ILO Regions: Asia
- Country(ies): Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia; Indonesia; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Myanmar; Philippines; Singapore; Thailand; Viet Nam
- Theme(s): Protection of migrant workers
- Start date: 13 Jan 2007
Improve the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers of the ASEAN countries.
Activities, processes and steps involved
Migration trends in South East Asia are characterized by complexity and include both origin and destination countries and, in some cases, countries are both. This situation presents challenges for the promotion of migrant workers¿ rights and their protection. In an effort to address these protection gaps and in order to ensure better governance of migration within the subregion, ASEAN members formulated a declaration that outlines general principles on the protection and promotion of migrant workers¿ rights.
The ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers comes after the introduction several initiatives focusing on migration but mainly addressing trafficking in persons. However, the Vientiane Action Programme, in 2004, included a plan to elaborate an ASEAN instrument on the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers.
At the 12th ASEAN summit in Cebu, Philippines in January 2007 the ASEAN Heads of State adopted the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers. The ASEAN Declaration calls on origin and destination countries to promote the full potential and dignity of migrant workers; cooperate to resolve cases of migrant workers who become undocumented due to no fault of their own; and take into account the fundamental rights of migrant workers and their families already residing in the destination country. It also outlines a number of obligations of destination and origin countries. These are:
¿ Intensify efforts to protect the fundamental human rights and promote the welfare and dignity of migrant workers;
¿ Facilitate access to resources and remedies through information, training and education, access to justice and social welfare services in accordance to legislation of the destination country;
¿ Promote fair and appropriate employment protection and access to decent working and living conditions;
¿ Provide access to the legal and judicial system to migrant workers who may be victims of discrimination, abuse and exploitation;
¿ Facilitate access to consular functions of origin country when a migrant worker is arrested or taken into custody.
¿ Enhance measures to promote and protect the rights of migrant workers;
¿ Ensure access to employment and livelihood opportunities, so that migration occurs out of choice;
¿ Facilitate the orderly process of labour migration, including policies on recruitment, pre-departure preparation, protection of national when abroad, and repatriation and reintegration;
¿ Establish measures to regulate recruitment practices and eliminate recruitment malpractices through valid contracts, regulation and accreditation of recruitment agencies and employers and blacklisting of negligent/unlawful agencies.
The ASEAN Declaration also calls upon member States to promote decent work for migrant workers, take concrete steps to prevent smuggling and trafficking in persons, by introducing stiffer penalties, among others, facilitate data-sharing and capacity building to enhance policies and programmes, and assist nationals working abroad of ASEAN member States caught in conflict or crisis situations outside of the ASEAN area. The Declaration also tasks the relevant ASEAN bodies to follow up and develop an ASEAN instrument on the protection and promotion of migrant workers¿ rights.
As a follow-up to the Declaration, a Committee on the Implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights Migrant Workers (ACMW) was established in the same year. At its first meeting, the ACMW adopted a work plan, outlining four areas of cooperation, one of which is enhancing labour migration governance. To this end, the ACMW sought the creation of an ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour as a regular activity.
Migrant workers from and within the ASEAN member countries.
The practice encourages member States to cooperate with international organizations, ASEAN dialogue partners, and other countries to respect the stated principles and support implementation of measures contained in the Declaration.
Relevant criteria for assessment
1. Respect for migrant worker rights
The ASEAN Declaration is an important first step towards greater protection and respect from migrant workers¿ rights in the subregion, especially in a context in which only the Philippines has ratified both the ILO Conventions No.97 on Migration for Employment, 1949, and No.143 on Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions), 1975, while Malaysia Sabah has ratified Convention No. 97. It provides spells out basic principles and an outline of the responsibilities of both origin and destination countries to protect and uphold rights.
The practice indicates awareness among member States of protection gaps for migrant workers and of the complexity of migration patterns in the subregion: high cross-border migration flows and irregular and female migration patterns and the lack of protection mechanisms. It calls for measures to address abuse and exploitation of migrant workers and adoption of coherent and comprehensive migration policies.
3. Potential for replication and extension (adaptability)
Several other regional inter-governmental associations have introduced initiatives to coordinate policies on migration, but the ASEAN Declaration could service as a model for specifically addressing the rights of migrant workers.
This practice is the first of its kind in this region. It is unique in that it specifically addresses the protection and rights of migrant workers from a regional perspective and in terms of the responsibilities of origin, transit and destination countries to ensure an orderly migration process.
5. Broad-based and participatory
The ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour will involve consultations with workers¿ and employers¿ organizations, civil society partners, government officials, and representatives of international organizations.
The impact of the ASEAN Declaration has yet to be assessed; however, instruments have been developed.