IOM, EU, Sweden Launch Drive to Protect Migrant Worker Rights in Asia

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) together with the European Union (EU) and the Government of Sweden launched a USD 12 million programme to highlight migrant workers’ rights in Asia.

The Migration, Business and Human Rights (MBHR) Programme builds on over a decade’s work with the private sector on protecting migrant employees.

It aims to promote full respect for the rights of migrant workers in supply chains in the region focusing on key destinations including Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. Protection from exploitation, unsafe conditions, and unethical processes will allow migrant workers in the region to flourish, so they can contribute economically to both their home and host nations. There are 85.6 million migrants in the region.

“When migrants fully access their rights, they can truly unlock their potential and harness the full power of labour migration,” said Amy Pope, IOM Director General.  “The private sector remains an indispensable partner for IOM as we work together to uphold human rights, conduct business responsibly and foster a greater expansion of regular migration pathways. Not just any pathway, but safe, regular, quality pathways where people enjoy their full human and labour rights.”

More than 600,000 migrants supported so far

According to the 2022 Global Estimates of Modern Slavery Report, Asia and the Pacific hosts more than half of the 28 million victims of forced labour globally. This and the fact that some 86 per cent of forced labour cases are found in the private sector, with migrant workers three times more likely to be exploited than local workers, highlights the urgent importance of this programme.

IOM has consistently highlighted that uneven governance, limited labour migration pathways, unethical recruitment and employment business practices have rendered migrant workers at greater risk of exploitation, hindering development outcomes for migrants, home, and host countries alike.

“Strengthening the rights of migrant workers throughout supply chains and in recruitment processes is impossible without meaningful engagement of the private sector,” emphasized H.E. Anna Hammargren, Ambassador of Sweden to Thailand. “IOM has demonstrated great ability to facilitate such engagement, while always keeping the perspectives of migrant workers front and centre of any action. To defend and promote human rights is a cornerstone of Sweden’s Foreign Policy and we are very pleased to continue the support to IOM in strengthening the rights of migrant workers in Asia.”

To date, IOM has worked with partners to support more than 600,000 migrant workers in Asia, assisting fair recruitment, responsible employment practices, and ensuring there are processes in place for when things go wrong in the workplace.

Latest news