Millions of people who are earning their living, or are looking for paid employment, are not nationals of the State where they reside. Migrant workers often have no protection or safety and are vulnerable to discrimination, poverty, and social and cultural handicaps. Disabled migrant workers are doubly disadvantaged. In order to protect migrant workers, the United Nations, the ILO and regional organizations have given special attention to this issue. This has resulted in the adoption of some important international and regional standards concerning migrant workers.
The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, in force since July 2003, contains a comprehensive set of rules with regard to the particular situation of migrant workers. The main thrust of this Convention is that persons who qualify as migrant workers under its provisions are entitled to enjoy rights regardless of their legal status. The Convention does not directly refer to the disabled people, but some articles are worth mentioning.
Article 1 (1) states that "…the present Convention is applicable, except as otherwise provided hereafter, to all migrant workers and members of their families without distinction of any kind such as sex, race, colour, language, religion or conviction, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, nationality, age, economic position, property, marital status, birth or other status…" (emphasis added).
Article 7 provides: "States Parties undertake, in accordance with the international instruments concerning human rights, to respect and to ensure to all migrant workers and members of their families within their territory or subject to their jurisdiction the rights provided for in the present Convention without distinction of any kind such as to sex, race, colour, language, religion or conviction, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, nationality, age, economic position, property, marital status, birth or other status." (emphasis added).
Article 28 provides that "…migrant workers and members of their families shall have the right to receive any medical care that is urgently required for the preservation of their life or the avoidance of irreparable harm to their health on the basis of equality of treatment with nationals of the state concerned. Such emergency medical care shall not be refused by reason of any irregularity with regard to stay or employment."
Some recent UN World Conferences have dealt with the rights of migrant workers:
The World Conference on Human Rights invited States to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families as soon as possible. In the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (part II, paragraphs 33-35), the Conference urged all States to guarantee the protection of the human rights of all migrant workers and their families.
In chapter X of the Programme of Action, adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development, the Conference called for a comprehensive international approach to dealing with international migration.
At the World Summit for Social Development States committed themselves, at the international level, to ensure that migrant workers benefit from the protection provided by relevant national and international instruments, to take concrete and effective measures against the exploitation of migrant workers and to encourage all States to consider ratifying and fully implementing international instruments relating to migrant workers.
In the Beijing Platform for Action, adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women (Chapter IV. D), the Conference called on States to recognise the vulnerability to violence and other forms of abuse of women migrants, including women migrant workers, whose legal status in the host State depends on employers who may exploit their situation.
The European Social Charter protects migrant workers. Article 19 establishes the right of migrant workers and their families and of self-employed migrants to protection and assistance. In order to implement these guarantees, States Parties undertake to provide a number of services. Some of which include: