ILO conference to enhance labour migration governance Asia and Arab States

ILO’s Asia Pacific labour conference agrees to enhance labour migration governance in the interrelated regions of Asia and the Arab States


H​​​ans Van de Glind, Senior Migration Specialist for Arab States​, ILO Beirut


The Declaration signed by delegates from 37 member States in the Asia-Pacific and Arab States region commits members to enhancing labour migration policies based on relevant international labour standards.

Signed at a regional meeting of Asia-Pacific and Arab States which takes place every four years, the Bali Declaration recognises migrant workers as a vulnerable group in need of targeted efforts to promote decent work, and outlines a number of policy priorities, including one on labour migration governance in accordance with international labour standards, especially those concerning fair recruitment principles. Under the labour migration priority, the Declaration spells out the need to ensure that: 
  • no recruitment fees or related costs are charged to workers;
  • workers are able to keep their own identity and travel documents;
  • protection measures are provided, including arrangements to improve portability of skills and social security;
  • employer-worker relationships that amount to bonded labour are redressed, while safeguarding migrant workers’ freedom of movement, their right to terminate employment or change employers, and to return freely to their countries of origin.

This agreement was reached in the presence of high-level representatives from Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, and offers guidance to implement the fair migration agenda in the interrelated regions of Asia and the Arab States in the years to come.

The meeting featured a plenary session on fair recruitment that included a presentation on the recently adopted ILO General principles and operational guidelines on fair recruitment, a perspective from a destination country in the Arab States, and a perspective on changing the culture of low-skilled migrant workers paying recruitment fees. The latter was based on an SDC financed ILO-ROAS white paper entitled ‘Ways forward in recruitment of low-skilled migrant workers in the Asia-Arab States corridor’. ​

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