Update: 29.09.2015

International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICRMW)

Of 18 December 1990 (Entry into Force 01 July 2003)

Text of Treaty

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The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families specifies human rights articled in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and expresses explicitly how different rights apply to different categories of working migrants. Beyond already existing limitations expressed by law, the Convention holds no provisions restricting the rights of states to decide on immigration procedures. 


54 contracting states (as of 16 May 2019; current count)

This Convention has not been signed by any industrial nation with immigrants in the western world. This includes Switzerland

Obligations of contracting states

This UN convention contains 93 clauses and is the longest human rights convention altogether. In accordance with other human rights conventions, contracting parties are obliged to warrant the human rights of working migrants listed in this convention without discrimination (Part II). In Part III these human rights specific to migrants are listed separately. Part IV concerns itself with further rights of migrant workers that regularly reside in the country and postulates the entitlement to equal treatment as nationals regarding access to education, the housing market, social security and healthcare facilities (Part IV). Part V contains regulations concerning specific categories of foreigner like cross-border commuters, seasonal labourers and travellers. Part VI lists regulations dealing with working migrants without a residence permit. In this case, the Convention calls for measures to prevent or reveal illegal and covert migration flows as well as illegal employment. Should measures to legalise the situation for persons concerned be taken into consideration, these measures should take into account the reasons for immigration, the length of the stay and work, as well as the family situation. Moreover, the Convention calls for efforts by the signatory states to ensure that the working and living conditions of illegal migratory workers and their families are not worse than of the legally resident foreign population, particularly with regard to legal issues related to safety, healthcare and human dignity.

Monitoring process

In Article 72 the Committee on Migrant Workers, consisting of 10 independent experts, is mentioned. After 41 states had ratified the Convention in 2010, the Committee was extended to 14 members. The contracting parties are obligated to submit a report on their efforts to implement the regulations of the convention within one year of its entry into force and all five years thereafter. According to Art. 76, the member states can allow the Committee to receive and assess state complaints, and according to Art. 77 to receive and assess individual complaints as well. The individual complaints procedure enters into force if ten states have issued a respective declaration.

Further Information

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