The ILO's mandate requires it to reach out to those who are most vulnerable, who face great insecurity and for whom the denial of social justice is most cruel. They are often hard to reach, and yet they are great in number. The example of domestic workers shows what can be done. The ILO must also give priority to...migrant workers."
Mr. Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General in his Vision Statement
In this era of globalisation, almost all countries in the world are involved in migration as countries of origin, destination, or transit—or all three. Of the several millions of people living outside their countries of birth, the ILO estimates that almost 90 per cent are migrant workers and their families. While international migration can be a positive experience for migrant workers, many suffer poor working and living conditions, including low wages, unsafe work environments, a virtual absence of the social safety net, denial of freedom of association and workers’ rights, discrimination and xenophobia. Therefore, the ILO approaches international labour migration—international migration undertaken for work—from a labour market and rights-based perspective with the intent to promote decent working conditions for migrants as well as migrants’ labour and human rights.
As the UN specialized agency on labour issues, the ILO has been dealing with labour migration since its foundation in 1919. The very Constitution of the ILO specifically mandates the organization in its Preamble to give attention to the "protection of the interests of workers when employed in countries other than their own". The International Migration Branch (MIGRANT) is the main unit responsible for labour migration issues in the ILO.
MIGRANT promotes the ratification and implementation of international standards; facilitates the participation of ILO's tripartite constituents in formulating and implementing migration policy; provides advisory services and a forum for consultations; serves as a global knowledge base on international labour migration; and conducts or coordinates various projects to strengthen the capacity of ILO's tripartite constituents and other relevant partners such as non-governmental organizations and migrants' associations, to deal with a wide range of labour migration issues.