Migrant Forum in Asia
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ILC votes to adopt a Convention supplemented by a recommendation for domestic workers (5 June 2010)

MFA at the ILC’s 99th Session and HRC’s 14th Session

Migrant Forum in Asia is currently participating in the 99th session of the International Labour Conference  2010 (ILC, 2-18 June) where Decent Work for Domestic Workers is being deliberated. The MFA delegation, together with Migrants Rights International  (MRI), is also participating in the 14th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC, 31 May – 18 June).

International Campaign for the Rights and Recognition of Domestic Workers

The confluence of the two events is providential for MFA’s long-running campaign for the rights and recognition of domestic workers, beginning from MFA’s foundation and slowly gaining ground until in March 2008 when the International Labour Organization (ILO) Governing Body agreed to put an item on decent work for domestic workers on the agenda of the 99th Session of the ILC, with a view to setting labour standards.  (See Paper 2)

Since then, MFA vigorously engaged the ILO, mobilizing its members across the region to actively participate in the States’ responses to an ILO Questionnaire released on April 2009, and holding national and regional consultation on the same, to come up with a Consolidated Regional Response to the ILO Questionnaire (See Paper 1), subsequently submitted to and recognized by the ILO (Decent Work for Domestic Workers, Report IV (2)).

With particular focus on domestic workers who are migrants, MFA likewise actively participated in a Day of General Discussion on Migrant Domestic Workers called for by the UN Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (CMW) held during its 11th Session in October 2009.  MFA made a submission to the CMW to assist the Committee in adopting a General Comment on Migrant Domestic Workers. (See Paper 3)

MFA, together with the Asian Migrant Center and other organizations working for the promotion and protection of migrants’ human and labor rights, facilitated the formation of the Asian Migrant Domestic Workers’ Alliance (ADWA), seeking to capacitate domestic workers themselves to voice their demands.  MFA and ADWA launched the 8-HR campaign (See Paper 4) and further raised the level of engagement through networking with international groups advocating for the same; the International Working Group for Domestic Workers (IWG-DW) was born.

In time for the ILC, MFA recently published a compilation of domestic workers’ bills from Asia, Europe and the United States, civil society responses to the ILO questionnaire and special reports.

Engaging the Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council has been a venue of engagement for MFA since it began. MFA, together with MRI,  hold Side Events during its sessions, sometimes paralleling the official discussions; at other times, bringing to the august halls of the UN the different issues of migrant workers.  The HRC sessions also provide the venue to engage the different mandates, such as the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and the like.

For the 14th session which coincides with the ILC 2010, MFA and MRI organized several activities, as follows:

  1. Pre-viewing the 2010 Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD)
    8 June (Tuesday)1:00-3:00 PM (13:00h-15:00h)
    Room XXV, Palais Nations, Geneva
  2. “Culture of Impunity, principal challenge of the Human Rights”
    Case studies on the role of Human rights Defenders versus the responsibilities of the States.
    8 June (Tuesday)1:00 – 3:00 PM  (13:00-15:00)
    Room IX, Palais des Nations, Geneva
  3. A public mobilization for the Swiss domestic workers in their struggle for a statutory minimum wage
    8 June 5:00 PM  (17:00h)
    Pedestrian Zone Rue du Mont Blanc opposite to Gare Cornavin
  4. The Impact of the Lack of Social Protection for Domestic Workers and their Families.
    9 JUNE (Wednesday) 1:00 – 3:00 PM
    Room VIII, Palais des Nations, Geneva
  5. Rights and Recognition for Domestic Workers: A Poster Exhibit
    9 June, 5:00 – 9:00 P.M. (17:00h – 21:00h)
    Salle Gandhi-Carson, Maison De Associations
    15, Rue des Savoises, Geneva, Switzerland
  6. Freedom of Association Day: Celebrating Domestic Workers Solidarity
    “An Evening to Celebrate the Recognition of Domestic Work as Work”
    10 June, 5:00 P.M
    Broken Chair Square, Geneva, Switzerland

Lobbying the Missions

The MFA delegation is also lobbying the various missions at the United Nations, such as the Mexican Mission in view of the 4th Global Forum on Migration and Development which Mexico will host in November 2010.

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1 Meeting of the 183 ILO member States every June in Geneva, Switzerland.  Each member State is represented by a delegation consisting of two government delegates, an employee delegate, a worker delegate, and their respective advisers.  Read more.
2 Migrants Rights International is a non-governmental organization and global alliance of migrant associations and migrant rights, human rights, labor, religious, and other organizations which operate at the local, national, regional or international level.  It brings together over 500 groups in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin American and North America and is in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.  MFA is currently chair of MRI.
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MFA is a regional network of non-government organizations (NGOs), associations and trade unions of migrant workers, and individual advocates in Asia who are committed to protect and promote the rights and welfare of migrant workers.

It is guided by a vision of an alternative world system based on respect for human rights and dignity, social justice, and gender equity, particularly for migrant workers.

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