Labour Migration in a Globalised World: Obtaining Rights, Development and Governance

19 March-29 April 2014 (E07914) | Closed
Instructor: Patrick Taran

Migration in search of decent work, sustenance for families and decent living conditions has been going on for centuries, driven by absence of prospects for employment—even survival—in homelands, forced displacement, and environmental degradation. Terms of disparities in demography, development, and democracy (“3Ds” as termed by the Global Commission on International Migration) have also been used to characterize reasons for migration. The major part of migration today has work or employment as outcome, regardless of reasons for moving. The ILO estimates that 105 of the 214 million people resident outside their country of birth or citizenship in 2010 were economically active—meaning employed, self-employed or otherwise engaged in remunerative activity. That comprises most adults of working age-women and men. Taking account of an estimated one dependent per economically active migrant means that some 90 per cent of global migrants are migrant workers and their family members. International labour and skills mobility is set to increase significantly in the next two decades. Global shortages of 40 million high-skilled workers in the North and 45 million vocationally skilled in the South are projected by 2020. More than fifty developing and developed countries have reached zero population growth fertility rates, meaning declining work forces now or very soon. Several countries are currently seeing work force declines of 500,000 to a million workers a year. Regulating labour migration, protecting migrants and ensuring that migration saves development in industrialised countries as well as contributes to development in the South are governance issues of the century.

Women and men migrant workers face high risk of exploitation and rights abuses during recruitment and transit and when living and employed outside their home country. Many persons migrating, especially in lower or medium skilled situations, get misleading information about conditions and benefits of employment abroad, and incur high migration costs as result of excessive (often illegal) intermediation fees and debt burdens. In destination countries, they may be given contracts with inferior conditions and lower wages that what was promised. Generalized problems for many migrants in destination countries include poor working conditions, confiscation of travel documents, virtual absence of social protection, and denial of basic rights in the workplace. Current headlines tell of discrimination, social exclusion and vicious xenophobic attacks against migrants in countries in all regions. There are few mechanisms for access to justice. Those most at risk are low skilled migrant workers, female migrant domestic workers, and those in irregular status.

This course is intended to better equip all those working on migration with critical knowledge of the evidence base, the normative and policy frameworks, and practical measures to obtain rights protection and governance on labour migration.  And ultimately to ensure that migration contributes to socio-economic development, social cohesion and human well-being.

Course structure

The course involves approximately 30 hours of reading, on-line working groups, assignments, webinars and interaction among students, the instructor and invited guests. The course will integrate active and participatory learning approaches within activities and assignments, with an emphasis on reflective and collaborative learning. Participants will do the required reading, prepare assignments, including case studies, and participate in group discussions. The maximum number of course participants is 25. Students who successfully complete the course will receive a Certificate of Participation. It is also possible to audit the course.

Course outline

Week 1: The global migration story: development, economics, demography, democracy
Week 2: Burning issues: protection at work, specificity of migrant women, youth and migration, discrimination and xenophobia
Week 3: Normative frameworks for migrant protection and migration governance: human rights treaties, international labour standards, regional instruments
Week 4: Policy frameworks for governance, regulation, and administration of labour migration
Week 5: Emerging challenges: global skills shortages, worldwide demographic evolution, climate change displacement
Week 6: Extending social protection and social security for all migrants

About the instructor: Patrick A. Taran

Patrick TaranPatrick A. Taran is President of Global Migration Policy Associates, an international expert body providing research, policy development and advisory services worldwide. He has over 35 years full-time professional experience in international migration, immigration, refugee resettlement, discrimination/integration, and human rights work at local, national and global levels. From 2000 to 2011 Patrick was Senior Migration Specialist with the International Labour Organization (ILO), responsible for technical cooperation projects and advisory services in Africa, Eurasia and Europe, for work on discrimination and integration regarding migrant workers, and for activities on protection of rights of migrants with worldwide scope. He was Secretary for Migration at the World Council of Churches 1990 to 1998; he co-founded in 1994 and later directed Migrants Rights International (MRI). He established and directed the South American Refugee Program in Seattle from 1976 to 1980 and held research, project funding, and Washington advocacy posts at the Immigration and Refugee Program of the National Council of Churches USA from 1980 to 1990. Mr. Tarain teaches at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and the ILO International Training Centre in Turin and lectures at the Graduate Institute of Geneva and the Institute des Hautes Études de Administrtation Publique (Lausanne). He is also Senior Fellow at the Programme for the Study of Global Migration of the Graduate Institute.

Who should apply

The course is aimed at university students and graduates of international relations, international law, politics and other areas, NGO staff members, staff of international organisations, migrant rights advocates and other practitioners. Participants should have a good written command of English and have high competence and comfort with computer and Internet use. HREA aims to ensure equal gender and geographical distribution across the selected participants.


Tuition fee for participants: US$ 575; tuition for auditors: US$ 215. Payments can be made online with major credit cards (Discover, MasterCard, Visa), PayPal, bank transfer (additional fee applies) and money transfer (Western Union, MoneyGram). Bulk rates are available. Payments are due upon registration.

How to register

Registration is closed.

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