Governance of Migrant Worker Recruitment: A Rights-Based Framework for Countries of Origin
Asian Journal of International Law, 2016
34 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2016 Last revised: 17 Mar 2018
Date Written: June 10, 2016
A vast private recruitment industry has emerged across South and Southeast Asia, driven by exponential increases in migrant workers seeking temporary low-wage jobs abroad. Many workers encounter mistreatment which is traceable to systemic recruiter misconduct. Could origin countries better protect their citizens and render recruiters more accountable? This paper presents a novel, rights-based recruitment governance framework to tackle this challenge, based on empirical studies conducted across Asia. Section I examines recent regulatory efforts and illustrates their limited effectiveness absent such a guiding framework. Section II elucidates and applies the key elements of the framework, including: incorporation of human rights standards; enforceable legal rights and obligations; effective implementing institutions and processes; and empowered participation of migrant workers in key labour migration processes and decisions. Section III identifies structural and practical obstacles to regulatory enforcement that the framework addresses, creating necessary conditions for transnational market-based reforms and responsible recruitment within origin countries. Section IV concludes that the framework provides countries of origin with a feasible path to better protecting migrant workers within a sustainable development strategy.
Keywords: migrant worker, labour migration, migrants rights, recruitment, governance, human rights, Asia, country of origin, rights-based approach, regulation, sustainable development
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