Statement on the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers

Posted by under Labour Watch on 11 April 2007

ASEAN is forging ahead with the elaboration of an instrument for the protection and promotion of the rights of Migrant Workers. ASEAN needs to move forward with the harmonization of labour legislation in-line with regional integration.

1. The Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers comprises trade unions, human rights and migrant rights non-governmental organisations, and migrant worker associations. It is aimed at supporting the development of a rights-based framework for the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers, in line with ASEAN's Vientiane Action Plan.

2. The Task Force welcomes the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers as an important step forward to protect the human and labour rights of migrant workers within the ASEAN region. Specifically, we commend the ASEAN Governments for taking a comprehensive approach which emphasizes that both the countries of origin of migrants, and the states in which they are employed, have important obligations to safeguard migrant workers' rights, welfare, and well-being. We support the Declaration's clear commitment to protect the rights, dignity and welfare of migrant workers entering countries of destination, by among other things, providing access to services, fair and just employment and conditions of work, access to legal justice, and promoting tolerance between migrant communities and populations of the receiving state. We further applaud the Declaration's focus on the obligations of sending states to expand their measures to protect migrant workers, including adopting policies and processes to fairly and effectively facilitate migration, and to take strong measures to end abusive practices by brokers, agencies, and employers in the recruitment, sending and placement of migrant workers.

3. The Task Force further welcomes the "Commitments by ASEAN" section of the Declaration which sets out timely initiatives that we believe will contribute significantly to the most important Commitment listed which is to "Promote decent, humane, productive, dignified, and remunerative employment for migrant workers."

4. We note the repeated emphasis of the Declaration on the importance of the national laws, regulations and policies of the ASEAN states. The Task Force notes that the eight core international human rights instruments all apply equally to migrant workers, and therefore we urge all ASEAN member states to ensure that their laws, regulations and policies on migrant workers are in compliance with those instruments. The Task Force would especially like to recommend the ASEAN Governments adopt policies that align with the ILO Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration and comply with the core labour Conventions of the ILO. As an important step to ensure national laws, regulations, and standards are in line with the spirit and intent of the Declaration to protect the rights of migrant workers, the Task Force calls on all ASEAN member states to ratify and implement the above-mentioned international instruments that provide protection to irregular and undocumented migrant workers, and members of migrant workers' families.

5. The Taskforce notes that the Declaration is an important first step and we urge the ASEAN member states, in line with Principle 22 of the Declaration, to take effective and timely steps to implement a binding instrument on the promotion and protection of the rights of migrant workers in the region. In line with the spirit of the Declaration, we believe that such an instrument include fundamental human and labour rights standards, and that its scope extend to included all migrant workers, including workers from non-ASEAN countries and those who are in an irregular or undocumented situation.

6. The Task Force and its member organizations from all sectors of civil society stand ready to cooperate with the Governments and the Secretariat of ASEAN to advance the effective implementation of the aspirations and commitments of this Declaration. In particular, we re-commit ourselves to rapidly and effective developing, through a participatory process, a draft ASEAN Framework for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers in line with the requirements of the Vientiane Action Plan. We also look forward to working with ASEAN in the coming days, weeks and months ahead to develop an effective and binding multilateral instrument which will serve as an important pillar of the people-centered ASEAN, true to the principle of "One Caring and Sharing Community", to which we all aspire.

15 February 2007
Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers

Sources and Relevant Links:

ASEAN ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, Cebu, Philippines, 13 January 2007

ASEAN ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Nursing Services, Cebu, Philippines, 8 December 2006

ASEAN Report of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on the ASEAN Charter

ASEAN Cooperation Agreement between ASEAN Secretariat and ILO

Task Force AMW CSOs-TUs Consultation on Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers

Task Force AMW ASEAN member states urged to ratify UN Human Rights Treaties and ILO Core Conventions


SAPA Submission on Economic Cooperation to the ASEAN EPG on the ASEAN Charter

SAPA Submission on Political and Human Security to the ASEAN EPG on the ASEAN Charter

SAPA CS Engagements with ASEAN

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