UN treaty on the rights of migrant workers enters into force

1 July 2003

The United Nations international treaty on the rights of migrant workers and their families came into force today, a landmark in global efforts to protect people who - separated from their countries of origin - have historically fallen through the cracks of the international legal system.

The 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families becomes international law 3 months ago after 20 countries ratified the treaty. It provides a set of binding standards for both documented and undocumented migrant workers, to guarantee the protection of their human and social rights.

Although only 22 States have ratified the Convention and are thus bound by its provisions, it sets a moral standard for the treatment of migrant workers in all countries.

An estimated 175 million persons are international immigrants, according to the UN Population Division.

"We are convinced that the rule of law and promotion of democracy and human rights are necessary foundations for sound, viable and sustainable migration policies. The norms contained in this Convention offer a sound footing for national legislation and practice throughout the world," said a joint statement issued by the UN today.

The heads of the UN International Labour Office (ILO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) signed the statement in support of the Convention.


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