Education International
Education International

International Migrants Day: EI Calls for the protection of the human rights of migrants

published 16 December 2016 updated 22 December 2016

To commemorate International Migrants Day, Education International calls upon governments, the UN and the international community to defend, protect and promote the human rights of all migrants, migrant children, workers, teachers, educators and their families.

December 18: ensure the human rights of all migrants

There are socio-economic reasons and justifications for migration. While noting that some countries may be negatively affected by brain drain, research evidence shows that international labour migration is a lot more beneficial to both sending and host countries, as well as individual migrant workers and their families. However, despite their significant contribution to the social-economic wellbeing of host countries, migrants are often discriminated against, hated and maltreated.

Many migrants enter into migration through predatory and unscrupulous recruitment agencies which often exploit them by charging exorbitant recruitment fees, confiscating their travel documents and denying them basic human and labour rights.

Migrants are often victims of violence, including in the form of attacks and rape. Women and children are, in particular, targets of violence as well as trafficking. Women are also often victims of abuse and discrimination in home and host countries and in transit.

“EI calls on the UN and governments to take concrete measures to ensure the human rights of all migrants, paying particular attention to the needs of women and children”, said Education International (EI) General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen.

“All recruitment agencies should be regulated and those that refuse to adhere to ethical recruitment practices should be banned. Under no circumstances, should individual migrants be charged recruitment fees”, he insisted.

Quality public services and education  essential

Governments in transit and host countries should ensure that all migrants have access to quality public services. Migrants need to have, during transit and upon their arrival, good health care, decent housing and sanitation and social security protections. They should be included in existing services as well as receiving assistance in areas of particular importance to the adaptation of migrants. All of this work requires resources and effective, quality public services.

Education is a particularly vital public service connected with migration. Education can be the fast track to integration for refugee children. It can prepare them for their new homelands and help then adapt to local languages and customs. Education is also about building tolerance, critical thinking, and discussion. It is, therefore a powerful tool against all forms of bigotry and prejudice.

Education International therefore calls upon governments in transit and receiving countries to ensure that all migrant and refugee children, youth and adults have access to quality education. Governments should put into place mechanisms to accredit and recognise the qualifications of migrant and refugee teachers.

Put workers’ rights and education at the centre of the Global Compact on Migration

Education International calls on the UN and governments to put workers’ rights and education at the core of the Global Compact on Migration, which is expected to be adopted by the UN in 2018. In this context, the vital role of the ILO, founded on a mandate of social justice, peace and democracy, is ever more important. The Global Compact should thus reaffirm the need for governments to ratify  and implement UN and ILO Migrant Conventions.

“It is vitally important that the new Global Compact ensure the education rights of all migrant and refugee children, youth and adults”, said van Leeuwen.

“The compact should be developed through a transparent and participatory process involving civil society and trade unions”, he concluded.

EI continues to defend and promote the human and trade union rights of migrants and refugees, in particular those of children, teachers and educators. To find out more about EI’s work, visit the Teachers for Migrants’ and Refugees’ Rights portal here.