Securing Social Security for Migrant Workers: Orthodox Approaches or an Alternative (Regional/Political) Path for Southern Africa?

African Journal of International and Comparative Law, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 24-45, 2010

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 10/35

31 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2010  

Terry Carney

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: April, 11 2010

Abstract

The socio-economic rights of migrant workers are extensively protected under various international treaties and other instruments, including the 1990 Convention on the Rights of All Migrants and their Families, various ILO instruments, and the General Comment on Social Security (2007) of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which elaborates the meaning of the right to welfare in Article 9 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Yet there is little to show for these pronouncements.

This article explores why this is so, with a focus on Southern Africa. The explanation for the lack of practical impact of international law, it is suggested, lies in politically entrenched concepts of rights of citizenship, and the powerful forces of global finance, trade and migratory labour. The first is shown to explain why non citizens are denied welfare when living and working in another country, and why even expatriate citizens from wealthy countries like Australia are denied portability of previously accrued rights when not living in their home country. The second is shown to explain why virtually no major receiving nor major sending countries for migratory labour have signed-on to the otherwise ‘exemplary’ protections of the Convention on the Rights of All Migrants and their Families.

Keywords: social security, migrant workers, human rights, international law, developing countries

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K33

Suggested Citation

Carney, Terry, Securing Social Security for Migrant Workers: Orthodox Approaches or an Alternative (Regional/Political) Path for Southern Africa? (April, 11 2010). African Journal of International and Comparative Law, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 24-45, 2010; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 10/35. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1587862

Terry Carney (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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