Regional Office launches study on Migrant Workers

On 22nd of June, the Regional Office for Europe held a press conference to launch its latest study on “Migrant Workers’ Rights in Europe”. Present at the launch and to introduce the study were Jan Jařab, OHCHR’s Regional Representative for Europe, Rudi Delarue, Director of the International Labour Organisation Office for the European Union and Anna-Eva Radicetti of the International Organisation for Migration together with MEPs Alejandro Cercas and Claude Moraes from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats and MEP Jean Lambert from the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance.

© Sanja StefanovikjThe study’s aim is to identify the challenges and opportunities for ratification by European Union countries of the International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICRMW) which has, so far not been ratified by any European Union member state. It demonstrates that obstacles to ratification which were often cited are not insurmountable and that it is simply a question of political will.

In his opening statement Mr Jařab said the study demonstrates that “arguments in Europe for the lack of ratification of the Convention are contradictory” and it was an opportunity to look at the Convention in the context of European integration. Joining Mr. Jařab in his call for European states to ratify the Convention, MEP Claude Moraes said: "I am asking member states to face up to the reasons why, so far, not a single one of them have signed this convention… At a time of great austerity cuts in member states, we must not retreat from the reality of what migrant workers contribute to our economies." Fellow MEP Jean Lambert stated that “the European Parliament has a vital role in pushing member states to recognize the importance of signing up to international conventions, in particular this Convention”. MEP Alejandro Cercas pointed out that progress to this end is being made with one of the most divisive issues, the portability of pensions for migrant workers, finally being addressed at the European level. Speaking of the 1990’s, when Europe’s joint migration policy consisted only of coordination against irregular migration, Mr. Jařab stated: “Arguments that have been used against ratification for the last 10-15 years, that were weak to start with, are now clearly obsolete”. He went on to point out that the European Union has not only ratified another international human rights convention this year (the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) but that it has also gained its own seat on the UN General Assembly. “The gap between these new commitments and the lack of ratification of the Convention on Migrants’ Rights is becoming ever larger”.

The study was launched ahead of a European Council meeting which had migration as one of the issues on the agenda.

Copies of the study can be downloaded here.

22 June 2011

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