An ILO Approach to Migration

For our last day at the International Labour Organization, we had the opportunity to meet with an official from the ILO’s International Migration Branch. She opened up the discussion with a brief overview of the ILO’s approach to migration, which views migrants as workers who are entitled to the same labour rights as all workers, irrespective of them being migrants. The ILO’s position on migration is that migrant workers treated as workers, should be at the centre of initiatives/policies. Lastly, the ILO expands its tripartite structure to issues of migration, and also includes it in its constitutional mandate. A tripartite structure serves as a voice to migrants who at many times lack representation.
The meeting with the official offered us the opportunity to ask questions on various issues. For example, we learnt that the challenges to brain drain faced by some countries may not necessarily be the same for other countries with more capabilities and resources such as higher populations. Additionally, the discussion gave us insight into the complications of situations, which tend to arise from basic problems such as a lack of awareness of rights for both workers and employers. A key issue brought up in the discussion is the neglect by countries to solve problems of emigration and brain drain by offering solutions to consequences rather than investing in addressing the root causes of migration such as availability of jobs. The ILO’s collaboration with other actors, such as the World Trade Organization and media groups, in clarifying the importance of language and definitions regarding migrants was also discussed. More importantly, it highlighted the importance of discourse in framing issues and policies.

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All in all, it was a rewarding discussion that gave us a deeper understanding of the key issues and challenges that the ILO faces. Being able to have a one-on-one discussion was beneficial as it gave us the chance to air our concerns and to deepen our understanding of issues that are discussed in the General Body meetings.  We are grateful for this opportunity and extend our gratitude to the department of International Migration for taking the time to talk to us.

Anneliese Fernandes

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