International migration for employment and its linkages with development have been prominent on the global policy agenda in recent years. It poses important challenges for migration policies at the national, regional and international level.
In 2004, the ILO resolution concerning a fair deal for migrant workers in a global economy called for the 'promotion of policies that maximise the contribution of migration to development'. In 2006, the ILO Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration advocated 'integrating and mainstreaming labour migration in national employment, labour market and development policy', which was a major step forward in defining a rights-based approach to labour migration. The ILO's four fundamental principles and rights at work are binding for all members of the ILO, even if they have not ratified the conventions.
The SDC is building up its Global Programme Migration and Development (GPMD) in line with the contribution of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Swiss migration policy. GPMD's approach, as defined in its Exploratory Working Plan 2010–2012, mentions the topic of labour migration as one of three priority areas and allows for the protection of labour migrants to be extended to the countries of destinations not considered SDC priority countries.
Migration is reflected in the SDC country strategies for Nepal and Bangladesh, which integrate the migration perspective into skills development, place an emphasis on the empowerment of prospective female migrants and deal with the access to rights issue. The COOF Nepal insists on the importance of extending its activities to the destination countries in order to improve the support structures and working conditions of migrant labourers.
One of the overarching goals of the SDC's Global Programme Migration and Development is to contribute to maximising the benefits of labour migration for the migrants themselves and their families left behind in the countries of origin, in order to contribute to the development of their country of origin and of the country of destination. This is supposed to be achieved by supporting the involved governments in designing and implementing sound migration policies and legal frameworks for a better protection of migrant workers and by strengthening civil society organisations working in the field of migration. A special focus is put on vulnerable migrants, which mainly consist of female and unskilled migrants