Labour migration

ILO launches Migration Glossary for Middle East media

The glossary guides journalists in the region towards rights-based reporting on migration, forced labour and trafficking in persons, as part of an initiative to promote fair migration.

Press release | 08 December 2017
© Julian Buijzen
BEIRUT (ILO News) – The ILO has launched a tool for journalists across the Middle East and Gulf region to ensure rights-based and gender-sensitive reporting on migration.

The digital and print editions of the “Media-Friendly Glossary on Migration: Middle East Edition” were launched at a panel discussion at the annual Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism conference at the Dead Sea, Jordan.

With increasing debate on the subject and growing hostility towards migrants in various parts of the world, the terminology used to discuss migration matters more than ever.

The Middle East and Gulf region hosts some of the largest populations of migrant workers in the world – with migrant workers forming the majority of the population in some countries –rendering the Glossary particularly relevant for media practitioners working in the Arab States region.

When media are informed and report on a broad range of migration issues in an exact and sensitive manner, they play an important role in informing and educating the public and helping to confront and counter negative attitudes and behaviours towards migrants, explains ILO Senior Migration Specialist for Arab States Ryszard Cholewinski. Informed public debate, in turn, supports sound policy-making in respect of international human rights principles.

“When we speak with one voice – guided by principles of human rights and respect and dignity for all migrants – we can work towards changing the narrative on migration across the region,” Cholewinski said.

The Media-Friendly Glossary on Migration: Middle East Edition details technical terminology relating to forced labour, trafficking in persons, displacement, refugees and labour migration, and proposes accurate and neutral alternatives to inflammatory and discriminatory terms commonly used. For example, the glossary emphasizes that domestic work must replace the terms ‘maid’, ‘girl’ and ‘helper’, and suggests that ‘illegal migrant’ be replaced with ‘migrant in an irregular situation’ – drawing attention to the varied means through which migrant workers become ‘irregular’.

The glossary is produced in English and Arabic, allowing journalists to cover the issues accurately in both languages. It also includes guides on photojournalism, gender-sensitive reporting, and working with victims of trauma.

“Our goal is for the glossary to be incorporated into the style guides of news media outlets across the region,” said ILO Technical Officer Eliza Marks. “However, the glossary is not just for media – it can be used by a broad network of actors who regularly communicate on migration – including civil society, international organisations, government, trade unions and employers,” Marks added.

The Media-Friendly Glossary on Migration: Middle East Edition, is based on the 2014 Media-Friendly Glossary on Migration produced by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and Panos Europe Institute (IPE).

Published in 2017, this version of the glossary represents our common understanding of the terms to date. However, the evolving nature of the migration debate reflects the dynamism of the phenomenon itself. Continued assessment and revision of migration terminology is an ongoing process.

The Glossary is part of a comprehensive initiative to promote fair migration (including fair recruitment), and contributes also to the elimination of forced labour and trafficking in persons across the Arab States region, implemented by the Regional Fair Migration Project in the Middle East (FAIRWAY), with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).