Protecting the Vulnerable: Migration, Work, and Rights

Diller, Janelle M., 'Protecting the Vulnerable: Migration, Work, and Rights' in Kimberly Ann Elliott (ed), Handbook on Globalisation and Labour Standards (Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing), 2021 Forthcoming

23 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2021

See all articles by Janelle Marie Diller

Janelle Marie Diller

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

Date Written: January 9, 2021

Abstract

Vulnerability and precarious employment are an embedded feature of international economic migration, particularly among lower-skilled migrant workers. In many cases, the forms of migration status offered by the host country impose precarious conditions of work and life and create or exacerbate vulnerability. Such restrictive conditions of entry, stay and/or work legitimize migrants’ inequality with locals and erode the protections otherwise afforded by human rights and international labour standards. A widely-accepted myth that the state has absolute discretion to regulate immigration contributes to the subversive process of legitimation of vulnerability in which law-makers, enforcement agencies and even courts participate. In contrast, under international law, the state’s discretion is limited by its human rights duty to prevent harm or deprivation, to any person, regardless of migration status, through its actions or omissions and to protect against third party abuses. By this reasoning, states and other actors involved in migration governance should identify and eliminate conditions of migration status and related circumstances that contribute to vulnerability. Such due diligence calls for states, business, and other actors involved in migration governance to assess the potential human and labor rights impact of laws and practices relating to migrants’ entry, work, and stay, and to eliminate factors that contribute to their precarious employment and life. Curative responses to the divisive impact of migration law on human and labour rights require systemic coordination of the interactions of migration law and related fields of governance by requiring common aims and means that respect rights and meet local economic and social needs. Recently-reported evidence shows that such coordination helps to balance labour market supply and demand across countries, create locals jobs in the formal economy, raise public revenue for social protection systems, and enhance conditions of work and life for local and migrant workers alike.

Keywords: Migration, migration status, vulnerability, human rights, worker rights, precariousness, migrant worker, labour market, migration law, labor law, due diligence, low-skilled work, social protection

Suggested Citation

Diller, Janelle Marie, Protecting the Vulnerable: Migration, Work, and Rights (January 9, 2021). Diller, Janelle M., 'Protecting the Vulnerable: Migration, Work, and Rights' in Kimberly Ann Elliott (ed), Handbook on Globalisation and Labour Standards (Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing), 2021 Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3783396

Janelle Marie Diller (Contact Author)

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva ( email )

Maison de la Paix
Eugene-rigot 2
Geneva, Ontario CH-1211
Switzerland

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