International labour migration: a post-crisis perspective

An inter-regional workshop on international labour migration will take place on 31 May and 1 June 2010 at the ITC-ILO, in English, French and Spanish. At the initiative of, and with the support of, the Brazilian and Italian Governments, the workshop has been organized by the ITC-ILO in close collaboration with the International Labour Migration Programme of the ILO and FIERI (the Forum Internazionale ed Europeo di Ricerche sull’Immigrazione). It will examine the post-crisis outlook for international labour migration.

Because of the global financial and economic crisis, unemployment has been on the rise, affecting everyone, especially migrant workers, who often do not enjoy the same rights and protection as nationals of their host countries. This makes them even more vulnerable to economic and labour market turbulence.  There are an estimated 214 million migrant workers, of whom about half are women. 

Some of the positive aspects of labour migration are:

  1. its links to development in the country of origin, through remittances, return migration, transfer of skills and technology, and the contribution of trans-national communities;
  2. migrant workers’ contribution to the growth of the economy in the host country – very often labour market activities would not exist on the same scale without migrants – their contribution to taxes, to social security schemes and to the economy as a whole.

However, there are also negative aspects: abuse and exploitation in host countries; loss of critical skills in countries of origin; growth of irregular migration, including trafficking and smuggling; and discrimination and poor integration of migrants in host countries. 

In addition, destination countries increasingly rely on control-oriented approaches, which fail to address the real issues. In this context, the ILO, drawing on its constitutional mandate on labour migration, assists countries in regulating migration effectively, so that they can benefit from labour migration while minimizing its negative effects.

Many good practices in the governance of labour migration are emerging and being documented in countries of origin and in host countries. They demonstrate the role that governments, workers’ organizations, employers’ organizations and NGOs can play in improving the governance of labour migration.

The two-day interregional workshop will bring together about 60 participants from 18 countries.  Its main objective is to contribute to the improvement of migration policy and practice:

  • through key players sharing knowledge of international labour migration and the post-crisis outlook;
  • by highlighting good practice in both countries of origin and countries of destination;
  • by providing input for the Global Forum on Migration and Development in Mexico later this year.








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