Protection of migrants is a moral obligation. The rights of migrants to decent lives and working conditions, among others, is part of human rights. Besides, the human rights perspective, migrants contribute to development. Therefore, improving cooperation frameworks on migration and development is paramount.
This has been the bottom line of the capacity building workshop organised, last week, by International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with Rwanda Development Board (RDB). For the purposes of proper labour migration management, proactive engagement of relevant public and private sectors and civil society stakeholders is crucially important.
More than ever, migration is a phenomenon, attracting global attention. In fact, at national, regional and international levels, there have been debates/workshops discussing workable policy and legal frameworks for the management of international migration for development and reduce its negative impacts.
It equally empathizes the need to change the misconception where migrant workers have long been seen as a burden to the society, but rather as a precursor to development. In other words, migration and development must be seen in lens of positive impact.
But this column is particularly focusing on strengthening cooperation frameworks at the national, regional and international level to make migrant workers potentially contribute to the development of their country of origin as well as the country of destination.
Approximately 258 million people or about three per cent of the world’s population is currently living outside their countries of origin. Noting that we live in an age of mobility, hence stressing the need to garner the positives of migration for the global good.
Undoubtedly, migrant labour is desirable and necessary to sustain economic growth. Migration is important for the transfer of manpower and skills and provides the needed knowledge and innovation for global growth. Migration has benefits to both the country of origin and the destination country.
To the country of origin, once the migrants get jobs abroad it becomes an ideal opportunity to demonstrate the abilities/skills, they would bring back the attained skills to the country of origin as well as remittances which have a positive impact at macro and micro levels. To the country of destination, migrant workers contribute to the labour force of that country, which, in and itself, is an economic benefit.
The critical issue today is how to properly manage labour migration. In order to address the issues raised by global migration, it is necessary to improve international coordination. As is an obligation to ensure the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families, there’s a need to examine issues faced by migrants from a country to country.
As all countries take stock in migration and development, they must acknowledge that much more remains to be done. However, dialogue, consultation and partnerships have never been more important other than ever before.
The first undertaking has to be done at local/national level. There must be an engagement of persons, groups and institutions relevant to migration and development initiatives, such as local authorities, civil society organisations, trade unions/employer associations as well as local service providers. By participating in dialogue and sharing responsibility, it would embrace cooperation between policymakers and local actors on labour migration.
To regional economic integration, labour migration should be seen as a factor that can boost economic growth in common market areas. For these regional blocs to achieve their goals, they have enabled free movement of persons, including migrant workers. That’s to say, the right of entry, residence and establishment. These rights are envisaged, for example, in the statutory instruments of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ad East African Community (EAC). However, the realization of free movement of migrant workers across the respective regional bloc need to be seen done.
At the African level, in particular, most recently, there was a high-level meeting of African Ambassadors of main countries of origin of African migrants in the Middle East & the Gulf Cooperation Council, where delegates shared experiences on international labour migration cooperation mechanisms aimed at improving labour migration governance and explore avenues for policy dialogue with Middle East Countries.
Though Africa does not have any labour migration multilateral cooperation agreement with the Middle East, both regions acknowledged existing gaps in the protection of African migrant workers and their families to be addressed.
They committed to protecting labour migrants, by providing decent jobs and fair and non-discriminatory wages as well as ensuring ethical practices in recruitment and employment.
At the global level, cooperation frameworks have gained momentum. For example, on 18 Sept 2016, Heads of State and Government came together for the first time ever at the global level under the auspices of UN General Assembly to discuss issues related to migration and refugees. As a result, they adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants for a comprehensive approach to human mobility and enhanced cooperation at the global level.
Following the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, the Intergovernmental Conference, held in Marrakech, Morocco, adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Subsequently, Global Compact for Migration was formally endorsed by the UN General Assembly on 19 December 2018.
The writer is a law expert.
The views expressed in this article are of the author.