International Migrants Day Appeal to the Australian Government

Appeal to the Australian Government to Ratify the

United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of

All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families

(The Migrant Workers Convention)

International Migrants Day – 18 December 2011


The Migrant Workers Convention is one of the nine core United Nations human rights treaties.   It has been ratified by 45 countries.  On this 21st anniversary of the signing of this Convention and eight years after it entered into force, we join in the civil society appeal to Australia to ratify the Convention and to be become a leader advocating for the protection of human rights of those who work outside their country of origin.  The Convention upholds what is already obvious: that the rights of migrants and their families are human rights.

Australia and Ratification of the Convention

The Australian government has stated that its laws are already consistent with the standards of the Convention.

Australia’s voice and leadership on this issue will make a difference for migrants everywhere and will reinforce the efforts of those in Australia working to ensure these commonly accepted employment standards are upheld.

Australia has been one of the greatest migrant receiving countries in history, and the modern Australian community has come into being through generations of migration.  In 2010 Australia was home to 6 million migrants born in over 200 countries of the world.  The country has strived for a high standard in the inclusion accorded to new arrivals, and to ensure that they become part of its community.  The Convention will help Australia to advance this high standard into the future as the world responds to the globalisation of labour.   Ratification will complement existing government efforts to address the exploitation of migrant workers that occurs via clandestine labour movements and labour trafficking.

Conditions Faced by Migrant Workers Around the World

It is intolerable that an individual working far from home should be kept in virtual slavery.

It is unacceptable that a worker should be denied the rightful wages they have earned, simply because they are working outside their country of birth.

Women or men carrying out the work of caring for the homes of their employer, should not be denied their human dignity and such work should not be denied the respect it deserves.

Farm workers who tend to the crops and collect the produce that feeds the world, are entitled to expect that society will uphold their human rights.   All workers are entitled to a safe place of work.

All migrant workers and their families are entitled to the equal protection of the law which is their fundamental human right.

These are some of the conditions that the Convention addresses.

Appeal to Australia

Australia has been a strong and clear voice in international forums for international human rights standards.  Its voice has been raised for the rights of women, for children, against torture, against racism, for civil and political rights, and for economic, social and cultural rights.  By ratifying the Convention, Australia can play a leading role in our region and support neighbouring nations to end the exploitation of migrants.  We appeal to Australia to ratify and to stand as a strong advocate for these human rights in international forums in which it participates.

Further Information

This statement has been issued by the Human Rights Council of Australia, in support of the Campaign for Australian ratification of the Migrant Workers Convention.  For more information visit: