Committee on Migrant Workers

The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, also known as the Committee on Migrant Workers or CMW, oversees implementation of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (“the Convention“) through its consideration of State reports and inter-State complaints, and its preparation of general comments, substantive statements, and general discussion days. As of June 2014, 47 States are parties to the Convention.

COMPOSITION

The CMW consists of 14 independent experts who are elected for a term of four years by State Parties to the Convention. See International Convention on the Protection of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, art. 72. Each member must be a national of a State Party to the Convention, of high moral character, and have recognized competence in the field of international human rights. See id. Further information about the election process is found on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ website on Elections of Treaty Body Members.

WORKING METHODS

The CMW generally holds sessions two times a year in Geneva, Switzerland. The schedule of past and upcoming CMW sessions is available online, and the OHCHR maintains a Master Calendar of all UN Member States’ upcoming treaty body reviews.

State Reporting

States parties are required to submit an initial report within one year after acceding to the Convention. States parties to the Convention are then required to submit periodic reports on on their implementation of the Convention’s provisions every five years.

The reporting system requires each State party to submit (1) a common core document, which lists general information about the reporting State, a framework for protecting human rights, and information on non-discrimination and equality, and (2) a treaty-specific document, which accounts for specific information relating to the implementation of the Convention and any national law or policies taken to implement the Convention. See CMW, Guidelines for the Periodic Reports to be Submitted by States Parties under Article 73 of the Convention, CMW/C/2008/1, 22 May 2008. For more specific guidelines regarding the form and content of reports, the Secretary General has published a Compilation of Guidelines on the Form and Content of Reports to be Submitted by State Parties to the International Human Rights Treaties.

Following the submission of State reports, the CMW will issue recommendations in the form of concluding observations. The CMW also keeps a current list of concluding observations.

The CMW also has adopted a simplified reporting procedure, under which the CMW’s list of issues and the replies by the State party will constitute the State party’s periodic report. Thus, the State party will not have to submit a report under the traditional reporting procedure, helping reduce the administrative burden on the Committee and allowing for a focused discussion with each State on priority concerns. See OHCHR, Opening Statement by Representative of the Secretary-General to the Sixth Meeting of States Parties to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, 30 May 2013. For more information about the simplified reporting procedure, see the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report on strengthening the human rights treaty bodiesUnited Nations reform: measures and proposals, UN Doc. A/66/860, 26 June 2012.

Individual Complaints

Article 77 of the Convention foresees an individual complaints mechanism to allow the CMW to address specific alleged violations of the Convention. See Convention, art. 77.  However, the CMW will only be authorized to receive individual complaints after 10 State parties have made the declaration necessary to accept the individual complaint procedure. As of August 2015, only three States have made the relevant declaration under Article 77 to receive and consider individual complaints.

Inter-State Complaints

Article 74 of the Convention provides a mechanism for States to complain about violations of the Convention made by another State. See Convention, art. 74. Both States concerned must have made declarations accepting this procedure, or the complaint will not be considered. The inter-State complaint procedure, however, has never been used.

Article 92 of the Convention also provides a mechanism for States to resolve inter-State disputes concerning the interpretation of application of the Convention. See Convention, art. 92. This procedure allows for disputes to be resolved in the first instance by negotiation, and should that fail, by arbitration. If the parties then fail to agree to the arbitration within a period of six months, then one of the States may refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice unless a State opted out of the procedure by making a declaration at the time of ratification or accession to the Convention.

Urgent Interventions

The CMW does not have a system in place for initiating urgent interventions.

Complaints of Systematic Violations (Inquiry Procedures)

The CMW does not have a system in place for initiating inquiries of serious or systematic violations of the Convention.

General Comments

The CMW issues general comments that aim to clarify the scope and meaning of the CMW’s articles. Such general comments help elucidate to State parties what the Committee’s views are on the obligations each State has assumed by acceding to the Convention. Each general comment specifically targets a particular article of the Convention and the general comments are currently compiled as a list on the Committee on Migrant Workers website.

Open Letters and Statements

The CMW will sometimes issue substantive statements on topics or developments of particular concern.

Thematic Discussions and Conferences

The CMW also hosts general discussion days in which to raise awareness about areas of concern related to migrants’ rights, receive information and input from stakeholders, and prepare for its writing of general comments.  Past discussions have included workplace exploitation and workplace protection, the role of migration statistics for treaty reporting and migration policies, and the rights of migrant workers in irregular situations.

CIVIL SOCIETY PARTICIPATION

NGOs and other civil society groups do not require ECOSOC consultative status to engage with the CMW. Furthermore, any group may submit information to the CMW or prepare an individual complaint on behalf of a victim. Certain requirements, including prior registration, regulate civil society organizations’ participation in-person in the Committee’s sessions, however.

The CMW generally invites NGOs and other civil society stakeholders to participate in its monitoring of State parties’ implementation of the Convention.  See Convention, art. 74(4).  The CMW will thus encourage NGOs to provide country-specific information regarding States’ implementation of the Convention during the State review process. Such information should include: (1) the full name of the NGO, (2) indicate the State to which the information relates, (3) indicate whether or not the submission may be posted on the CMW’s webpage for public information, and (4) address as briefly and precisely as possible the main human rights issues arising under the Convention’s articles for the State involved. NGO submissions should be in English, French or Spanish, and should not exceed ten pages in length. The reports should be submitted in both Word and PDF formats by e-mail to cmw@ohchr.org. Twenty-five hard copies of the reports must also be submitted to the CMW’s Secretariat at:

CMW Secretariat
OHCHR – Palais Wilson
52, rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva 10
Switzerland

Attending Sessions

The CMW invites representatives of NGOs and other civil society stakeholders to brief members of the Committee during the session at which the relevant State party’s report will be considered.  See Other Activities of the Human Rights Treaty Bodies and Participation of Stakeholders in the Human Rights Treaty Body Process, UN Doc. HRI/MC/2013/3, 22 April 2013, paras. 39-40. NGOs and other civil society stakeholders may also put in a request to the CMW’s Secretariat to brief committee members orally prior to the session or during the CMW’s open meeting session.

Accreditation

If an NGO or other civil society stakeholder wishes to attend a CMW Session, the organization is required to be duly registered. Participants will have to submit a completed Conference Registration Form to the attention of both Ms. Adele Quist at aquist@ohchr.org and the Secretariat of the Committee on Migrant Workers at cmw@ohchr.org.

More information can be found in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Information Note on Accreditation to attend session of Treaty Bodies.

RESEARCH AND ADDITIONAL SOURCES

The Committee’s outputs can be found on its website and are linked to in the relevant sections above. The UN Treaty Body Database also collects these documents, which may be searched by several criteria, but not by keyword or subject matter. For additional research tools, view the Research Aids section of this Online Resource Hub.

Webcasts of the Committee’s sessions are periodically broadcast on either UN Treaty Body Webcast or UN Web TV.

Another useful resource is the International Service for Human Rights’ Simple Guide to UN Treaty Bodies (2010), which examines each treaty bodies’ reports, individual communications, State-to-State complaints, inquiry procedures, urgent interventions, general comments, and how NGOs can engage with treaty bodies.