Migrant Workers: Where Lies Their Haven under the United Nations' Migrant Workers' Convention?

26 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2007 Last revised: 22 Feb 2010

See all articles by Demola Okeowo

Demola Okeowo

Peter A. Allard School of Law, UBC

Date Written: December 4, 2007


The importance of migrant workers in a globalized world cannot be over-emphasized. Sadly however, migrant workers have over the years fallen victim of different levels of degrading and inhuman treatments in their countries of vocation. It was in order to correct this situation that the United Nations in December 1990 adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (MWC). Indeed, this Convention opened a new chapter in the history of efforts to establish the rights of migrant workers and to ensure that these rights are protected and respected.

Despite the adoption of this treaty in 1990, global events continue to show that the inhuman treatments of the past have continued to make life unbearable for migrant workers in different countries of the world. Of great concern also is the fact that most developed countries of the world, especially Canada and the United States have refused to ratify this convention. In the light of this, it is doubtful whether this convention can achieve any form of effectiveness without their ratifications.

This paper will take an in-depth look into the rights enshrined in this convention. It will engage in an analysis of some articles of the MWC with the aim of appraising the level of rights and protection offered to migrant workers under it. It examines the rights of migrant workers as aliens in general international human rights law as well as the specific efforts and measures of the International Labour Organization and the United Nations in affording them protection. The paper will draw out the weaknesses of the MWC while offering suggestions on how these weaknesses can be rectified. Most developed countries have cited these weaknesses as their reasons for refusing to ratify this convention. This paper will examine these claims while analyzing the appropriate steps to be taken if the United Nations intends to confer some effectiveness and acceptance on the MWC. Moreover, the paper will be lending its voice to the on-going global campaign for the ratification of this important treaty.

Keywords: Migrant Worker, MWC, Human Rights, ILO, Sovereignty, Migration

Suggested Citation

Okeowo, Ademola Oladimeji, Migrant Workers: Where Lies Their Haven under the United Nations' Migrant Workers' Convention? (December 4, 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1043682 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1043682

Ademola Oladimeji Okeowo (Contact Author)

Peter A. Allard School of Law, UBC

1822 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1

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