Examining the protection of migrants in vulnerable situations
As the intergovernmental negotiations on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration draw to a close, there has been increasing debate on the issue of responsibility sharing and the protection of irregular migrants outside of the scope of the 1951 Refugee Convention.
From a normative standpoint, there is no shortage of legal ‘hard’ and soft law instruments and provisions protecting the rights of migrants, but ratification and implementation of conventions aimed at protecting the rights of migrants lags. It stands to reason that major legal migration instruments which criminalise irregular migration enjoy a considerably higher ratification rate than instruments attributing rights to migrants and migrant workers. One example is evident in the reality that the ICRMW remains largely unratified by migrant receiving countries, since its inception in 1990.
As one of the first attempts at collating existing migrant rights law into a normative framework, the OHCHR Principles and Guidelines on the rights of migrants in vulnerable situations provide an opportunity to take stock. This research provides a country-level case study analysis of two of the principles, and their accompanying guidelines, listed in these guidelines. These are Principle 6, the right to human rights-based returns, and Principle 14, the right to just and favourable working conditions. The two principles were examined in the contexts of Jordan and Lebanon, in order to ascertain existing progress towards, or evident gaps in, the rights of migrants outlined in the framework, from the perspective of state policy and procedure. The study finally seeks to inform the operationalisation of the principles and guidelines at the regional level, by assessing the awareness and attitudes amongst regional actors advocating for the rights of migrants towards such a tool.
The study was conducted in parallel with the thematic consultations in preparation for the Global Compact for Migration in Jordan and Lebanon. Stakeholders interviewed were all active in one way or another in protecting the rights of migrants within these contexts. In Jordan and Lebanon, those interviewed unanimously stressed the need for strengthening of existing domestic provisions or international standards already adhered to by the Jordanian and Lebanese governments as the chief priority. In Lebanon, the development of an overall regulatory framework on refugees and migration was equally highlighted. Consultations concluded that the guidelines will be most effective in identifying priority areas for advocacy and supporting lobbying with institutions responsible for furthering legislative development towards migrant rights.