Capacity Building Program on Human Rights Advocacy and Migrant Workers in the Middle East (2012)

Program Dates: 14-18 October (2012)

Location: Qatar

The capacity building program on Human Rights Advocacy and Migrant Workers was hosted by the National Human Rights Committee of Qatar, focused on promoting and protecting the rights of migrant workers in the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

This was the first capacity building program on the rights of migrant workers in Qatar to bring together representatives of civil society and national human rights institutions (NHRIs) from across Asia and the Middle East to focus on the challenges of implementing agreed international human rights and labour rights standards.   Participants came from countries of origin for migrant workers and countries of destination. 

The program addressed the situation of migrant workers in the GCC States.  Millions of migrant workers, men and women, travel from Africa and Asia to work in the GCC States – in construction, manufacturing and service sectors – and as domestic workers.  They work under the Kafala (sponsorship) system, which is becoming a focus for growing international criticism for the vulnerability it creates. 

GCC States have responded in various ways to the rapid growth in the numbers of migrant workers they now host.  These states are also grappling with other challenges of governance.  Some have established or have committed to establish NHRIs to promote human rights education, understanding and compliance.  Some have recognised the rights of workers to form and join trade unions, while others have not.   There are signs that some in governments in the region see the need to address the growing human rights issues and concerns about the treatment of migrant workers in their countries.  The need for agreed standards of human and labour rights to be applied in the region is urgent.