Regional Workshop on Ethical Business and Recruitment Practices in Labour Migration (1-4 May, 2014)

Location: Dubai

Program Dates: May 2014

This is the report of a special capacity building program organized by the Diplomacy Training Program (DTP) and Migrant Forum Asia (MFA) with the Middle East Centre for Training and Development (MECTD). 

This program was in response to the migration situation in the Middle East, which has long been a magnet for labour migrants, most notably from South and South-East Asia and, increasingly, from North Africa. The proportion of migrant to local workers is particularly high in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, with migrants comprising 94% of the workforce of Qatar. Cases of abuse and exploitation abound. The ILO has estimated that there are some 600,000 forced labour victims in the Middle East region, many of whom are low-skilled migrant workers. Migrant workers face very low wages, unsafe working environments, a virtual absence of social protection, widespread discrimination and xenophobia, and barriers to freedom of association.

The capacity building program had a focus on the responsibilities of the private sector to the human rights of migrant workers in the Middle East.   It had a focus on the role of the recruitment industry that facilitates the large scale movement of these workers from countries of origin in Asia, the Middle-East and North Africa to work in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in particular. 

The design of this program focused on building knowledge relevant international standards and how they could be applied – and in developing an understanding of how recruitment works in practice and the problems associated with it, of the drivers of business practices and of alternative models of recruitment.  Such knowledge and understanding is vital for advocates to determine effective advocacy strategies.

The program explored the application of the UN Framework on Business and Human Rights (and its Guiding Principles) to the private sector’s role in the process of labour migration, and on how this process can better respect and protect the rights of often very vulnerable migrant workers.

The program mapped out the issues, and built the knowledge, skills and networks of participants. It provided guidance for the development of DTP-MFA’s capacity building strategy going forward.   The following report provides the background and context for the program – as well as a description of its contents and reflections on next steps.

Program Report