Syrian refugee camp in the outskirts of Athens | Photo by Julie Ricard on Unsplash
Syrian refugee camp in the outskirts of Athens | Photo by Julie Ricard on Unsplash

Promoting the rights, dignity, and agency of migrants for an inclusive recovery

published 17 February 2022 updated 17 June 2024

In the lead-up to the first-ever International Migration Review Forum taking place later in the spring, to assess progress on the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), the second report of the Secretary-General is a reminder of the impact the pandemic and natural disasters caused by climate change has had on migrants and their host communities.

Education International fully supports the report’s call for states to “take concerted action to advance a world that truly fosters the rights, dignity and well-being of migrants and that is grounded in cooperation and international law”.

The GCM was adopted in December 2018 by a majority of UN Member States and is the first inter-governmentally negotiated non-binding agreement, covering all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner. The GCM set forth 23 objectives covering inter alia, fair and ethical recruitment as well as conditions to ensure decent work for migrants, access to basic services including education, empowering migrants and societies to realise full inclusion and social cohesion and mutual recognition of skills, qualifications and competences.

Rethinking the global governance of migration in the post-pandemic era

The report rightly points out that “the Covid-19 pandemic has, in many ways, reshaped international migration”. It has highlighted both the crucial contribution of migrants in society, while lifting the veil on the deeply entrenched discrimination and human rights violations that migrant workers and communities face, as a result of the current global migration governance.

As we review progress and identify ways to address systemic challenges, Education International supports the call contained in the report for “a truly global and equitable recovery that guarantees fair and ethical recruitment and decent work and invests in solutions that facilitate the mutual recognition and development of skills, qualifications and competencies”.

While the report underlines that since the adoption of the GCM in 2018, “states continued to ratify fundamental labour instruments”, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families (Convention 143) remains one of the least ratified human rights treaties, thirty years after its adoption. Governments must safeguard the dignity and rights of migrant workers by ratifying and applying ILO Convention 143 and other relevant international labour standards.

States must put education at the forefront of migrant inclusion and recovery policy.

An education-driven and inclusive recovery

While Education International acknowledges some progress mentioned in the Report, more can be done to promote the full inclusion of migrants. In this regard, and while acknowledging that migrants still struggle to gain access to basic services, the Report underplays the significant role of education and fails to identify meaningful progress in this area. States must put education at the forefront of migrant inclusion and recovery policy in order to meet the objectives of the GCM.

As States and stakeholders are encouraged to pledge concrete actions for the implementation of the Compact, ahead of the International Migration Review Forum, systematic and participatory review mechanisms should be in place to ensure that these promote the human rights of migrants, and in particular the right to quality inclusive education.

In the context of their pledges and efforts to implement the GCM, Education International urges governments to systematically assess the impact of the full/partial closures of schools on the most vulnerable students, teachers, and education support personnel, including those with a migrant background/status, and urgently address the key equity issues that have been aggravated by the pandemic.

Meaningful engagement with trade unions

Education International also supports the Report’s call for diverse actors to “engage together in dialogue and analysis and inculcate cooperation and partnerships to act in solidarity with and for all people, as part of the collective work to realize the benefits of migration for all.” Trade unions are critical actors in understanding the needs of all workers, and must not be left out of policy decisions, particularly around fulfilling the labour rights of migrants.

A lack of immediate action on migrant inclusion in quality education systems and decent work condemns millions to a lifetime of hardship. National governments and the international community have a legal and moral obligation to all migrants. Immediate action is imperative.