are various categories of rights that are now enshrined, to varying
degrees, in laws, international conventions and agreements. Rights
of relevance to migrants, both forced and voluntary, include civil
and political rights, access to justice and redress to courts, the
right of association and assembly, the right to work, education
and health, freedom from arbitrary detention, and the right to return.
However, despite increasing acceptance of the notion that migrants
either do have, or should have, rights, access to rights remains
highly varied. Most obviously, the International Convention on the
Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their
Families adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1990 is still only
ratified by 33 states worldwide, almost all of them primarily sending
countries of migrant workers (although these states include three
of the four countries in which the Migration DRC works – Bangladesh,
Egypt and Ghana).
So far, our work on rights has concentrated on the rights of forced
migrants, and especially the way in which policy works to promote
or restrict access to rights. For forced migrants, the range of
relevant human rights instruments is larger, most noticeably including
rights conferred under the Geneva Convention on Refugees. However,
despite this ‘special’ protection for some forced migrants,
and the growth of ‘rights-based’ approaches to a range
of displaced people, refugees and other forced migrants often remain
unable to access rights. In Egypt, Lebanon, Sudan, India, Malaysia
and Ghana, we are examining why access to rights is limited, and
the extent to which forced migrants seek to mobilise around rights,
highlighting two key rights in each country case study.
We are also developing new work which focuses on access to rights
and human rights violations amongst migrant domestic workers in
Cairo, replicating an existing study by the principal investigator
in Beirut, which is currently nearing completion.