September 9, 2019
Bangkok, September 9th, 2019. The U.S. Government is supporting ASEAN Member States and the ASEAN Committee for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers (ACMW) in upholding fundamental human rights of migrant workers through constructive, direct engagement with civil society.
Today, around 50 representatives from Thailand’s Ministry of Labour, Parliament, industry associations, academia, ACMW and the International Labour Organization convened in Bangkok to engage in a full day of policy dialogue on how to strengthen implementation of the ASEAN Consensus on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers in Thailand. This event is the second in a series of consultations across all ASEAN Member States to encourage exchange and collaboration across key stakeholders on the ASEAN Consensus, organized by the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), a grantee of the ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT project. The objectives of the dialogue were to: (i) build a platform for key stakeholders to share good practices and lessons learned for implementing ASEAN Consensus at national and regional level; and (ii) increase engagement on the implementation of the Consensus, in partnership with civil society.
Mr. Wiwat Jirapanwanich, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labor, explained, “The Thai Government has implemented several measures in accordance with the ASEAN Consensus, and is invited to exchange best practices with other ASEAN countries. ASEAN countries must work together because of the changing population structure that will affect the future of work. Thailand should prepare for these changes and the Ministry of Labor will continue collaboration with social partners for sustainability of migrant worker protection”.
Thailand is a destination country for an estimated 4-5 million migrant workers, mainly from neighboring countries, working in agriculture, construction, manufacturing and fisheries industries. The Royal Thai Government has undertaken several measures to improve protection of migrant workers’ rights and access to social services, however, those who are undocumented or otherwise irregular status often fall through the gaps.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Laura Pavlovic, Director for the General Development Office of the USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia said, “the U.S. Government is pleased to work with the HRWG to facilitate a series of national-level consultations. We recognize that successful implementation of the ASEAN Consensus at the national level requires support from the national governments as well as collaboration with the various stakeholders on the ground, including migrant workers themselves.”
Through their discussions, participants explored practical implementation of the ASEAN Consensus across three main areas: 1) participation of migrant workers in the implementation of the Consensus, 2) access to social protection and justice for migrant workers and family members, and 3) fair and ethical recruitment. A cross-cutting theme was identifying opportunities to improve exchange among stakeholders present. An outcome anticipated from the meeting is a set of recommendations regarding national level implementation of the ASEAN Consensus, including a mechanism for participation of civil society and migrant workers, to be shared with the Thai Government and ACMW for further consideration.
The U.S. Government, through the ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT project, will continue to support HRWG to facilitate multi-stakeholder consultations to discuss the most critical challenges and opportunities that accompany the implementation of the ASEAN Consensus at the national-level.