ASEAN member states have failed to reach a consensus on a highly anticipated migrant workers’ protection instrument, prompting the region’s senior officials to shelve the declaration for the next summit in November.
For months Indonesia and the Philippines had played up the adoption of the ASEAN Declaration on the Promotion and Protection of Migrant Workers’ Rights, an instrument that would provide robust protection for all migrant workers in the region.
Now, Jakarta found itself in the minority of those who insist on the declaration’s legally-binding nature, as even Manila was resigned to the idea of a non-enforceable instrument, said Jose AM Tavares, the Foreign Ministry’s director general for ASEAN affairs, who said Indonesia would need to rethink its strategy on pursuing an enforceable instrument.
“The issue will [be discussed] beyond the upcoming ASEAN summit, even though there will still be a statement pushing for its adoption by year’s end,” Jose said after concluding a preparatory ASEAN senior officials meeting in Manila on Thursday, emphasizing that ASEAN labor ministers would convene next month for a follow-up meeting.
“We hope to conclude the instrument in the coming months, so that it can be tapped as an outcome document at the November leaders’ summit,” Jose added.
ASEAN is currently split between sending states of migrant workers, like Indonesia and the Philippines, and receiving countries, like Malaysia and Brunei, on issues related to the protection of migrant workers, particularly the undocumented ones. (ipa) By Tama Salim
The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the ASEAN Trade Union Council.
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