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Managing international labour migration for the benefit of everyone

Over the last ten years, few topics have generated more interest among multilateral organizations than the management of migration - estimated at 191 million people in 2005.

In North America, the management of migration, which earlier had focused on controlling illegal migration from the southern borders (the Puebla Process) has, since 9/11, acquired a national security dimension.  In Europe, several continent-wide consortia of research institutions have been created to address problems of managing asylum and economic migration.  In Asia, Africa and Latin America, the phenomenon has increased every year and will continue to do so, given the widening global disparities in income, decent work deficits and demographic trends in sending and receiving countries.

The challenge for policy makers is to regulate migration in such a way as to maximize its positive effects and minimize the negative effects.  Through remittances, return migration, skill and technology transfer and contributions by transnational communities, labour migration can have a positive impact on development. However, abuse and exploitation of migrant workers in host countries, a brain drain from developing countries, the growth of irregular migration, including trafficking and smuggling, as well as discrimination and poor integration of migrants in host countries, also take place.  Yet both destination and sending countries can adopt processes that favour safe, informed migration.

In this context, as part of its constitutional mandate whereby governments, employers’ organizations and workers’ organizations formulate consensual policies, the ILO promotes a rights based global policy agenda on labour migration. Following its “Resolution on a fair deal concerning migrant workers in a global economy”, adopted at the International Labour Conference in 2004, the ILO developed a Plan of Action for Migrant Workers and a Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration (MLF).  The Framework provides a guide and a comprehensive tool kit with which all countries can develop and improve their labour migration policies and programmes. Other programmes aim at developing capacity and awareness, as well as providing technical assistance to ILO member states.

Countries with longer histories of managing migration underline that effectiveness in managing migration is learned rather than intuitive.  States and their senior officials gain more by learning from the experience of others than through the painful process of trial and error. Good migration management improves with knowledge and builds on others’ experience.

Accordingly, in collaboration with the ILO Migration Programme (MIGRANT) and ILO offices around the world that are managing labour migration initiatives, the ILO’s International Training Centre in Turin is running a ‘state of the art’ two-week course entitled “International labour migration: Enhancing protection and promoting development” in Turin from 7 to 18 April 2008.  A course in French entitled “Migration internationale de main d’oeuvre: renforcer la protection et contribuer au développement” will be held in Turin from 8 to 19 September 2008.  A rendez-vous for policy makers, workers’ organizations, employers’ organizations, international development agencies, regional economic communities, civil society organizations and researchers concerned with migration issues!

From the ILO Rome Newsletter
Article by Ginette Forgues, Manager, Social Protection Programme, ITC-ILO

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