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UN experts urge countries to ratify treaty on rights of migrant workers

[JURIST] UN experts on the rights and status of migrant workers on Monday renewed [press release] calls to states urging the signing and ratification of a treaty more than 10 years old. The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families [text] has only been ratified by 47 countries. The Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families, [official web page] Francisco Mena, stated that the number of ratifying countries is far too low, taking into consideration abuses suffered by migrant workers, exploitation, and the potential for positive contribution by migrant workers to both their countries of origin and labor. Absent from the list [text] of ratifying nations are the majority of the major developed nations, including the US, EU member states and the Gulf states, especially considering these countries' status as destinations for migrant workers. Mena urged ratification, saying that the treaty does not confer new rights but rather seeks to apply otherwise established humanitarian standards in the context of migrant workers. The renewed calls seek to protect migrant workers from exploitation. It it estimated that there are currently more than 200 million worldwide international migrants, and the International Labor Organization (ILO) [official website] estimates that approximately 21 million individuals are engaged in forced labor.

The rights of international migrant workers are an area of great concern to many human rights experts, even in countries such as the US [JURIST op-ed] and those of the EU that generally have comparatively decent human rights track records. Last May UN experts urged [JURIST report] EU member nations to reevaluate certain migrant worker policies, including ones that limit the opportunity of such workers to find legitimate employment opportunities. In 2010 the ILO urged the international community to adopt a "rights-based" approach to international migrant workers, stating [JURIST report] that countries should attempt to provide, "conditions of freedom, dignity, equity and security."

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