Labour migration: Overview

Labour migration


This report is concerned with how the intricately woven social, economic and political realities, collectively referred to as “globalization,” are giving rise to and shaping contemporary patterns of mobility with particular attention to economically-motivated mobility.

This is a comprehensive discussion of issues of labour migration in a globalizing world. It highlights ILO perspectives on labour migration, the connections between migration and development, decent work for migrant workers, the normative framework for protection of migrant rights, the governance of international labour migration, and the role of social dialogue and international cooperation. In so doing, it brings together the elements of a rights-based approach to labour migration as identified by its constituents.

What is the connection between protection of migrant rights and development? How are countries singly or jointly protecting the rights of migrants? This paper seeks to address these questions and related issues and to serve as a useful tool to governments, employers' and workers' organizations and all other stakeholders who are keen to improve protection of their workers abroad as well as migrant workers in their countries.

This report provides a comprehensive review of the state of labour migration in the context of globalization. It contains data, research summaries, charts sources and other information related to global trends on labour migration. It investigates the conditions of work and treatment of migrant workers and assesses international regulations. The report discusses the available opportunities for improving the management of migration. It includes a summary of replies to the ILO International Labour Migration Survey 2003. For French and Spanish versions, click here.

This book contains papers that were presented at “Merchants of Labour: Policy Dialogue on the Agents of International Labour Migration” held on 28 and 29 April 2005. “Merchants of labour” are public and private agents who move workers over national borders. Their practices as well as the implications for migrants are among the most under researched topics in migration research. This is due to lack of reliable data and wide variation in policy regime in different regions of the world, ranging from laissez-faire vis-à-vis private recruiters to a state monopoly on labour exchange activities. There is, however, recognition that recruitment can play a key role in creating vulnerabilities in the final employment stage.

This joint OSCE/ILO publication can serve as a valuable reference document for officials of governments and for concerned staff of stakeholder organizations throughout the OSCE regions to strengthen migration governance. It contains contextual background information, a review of OSCE commitments on international migration, and data on indicators measuring implementation of commitments, and it features numerous examples of concrete useful practices and specific measures. It offers conclusions and a number of suggestions on policy measures and specific follow-up activity.

This handout defines child migration and how it relates to child labour. It describes the plight of child migrants, shortcomings in current protection mechanisms and ways forward in terms of effective responses in the world of work.

The working paper attempts to describe the correlation between migration and child labour by reviewing secondary data of migrant children with or without their families, and children left behind by their migrant parents. Following the review, the paper offers a range of policy considerations, including in the world of work, and points at knowledge gaps.

The Domestic Work Policy Brief series aims to stimulate and inform policy debates on advancing decent work for domestic workers. It provides information on terms and conditions of employment in domestic work, policy issues and different views on these issues, and varied approaches to addressing them around the world.


Thank you for your interest in the Global Migration Group.

Please be advised that following extensive system-wide consultations and the proposal by the UN Deputy Secretary-General and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for International Migration, the UN Secretary-General decided, at a meeting of the Executive Committee on 23 May 2018, to establish a UN Network on Migration, as a successor to the Global Migration Group, to ensure effective, coordinated system-wide support to the implementation of the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.


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