The Rights of Migrants, Refugees or Asylum Seekers under International Law

Date01 June 1992
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2435.1992.tb00775.x
Published date01 June 1992
AuthorG. Fonteneau
The Rights
of
Migrants,
Refugees
or
Asylum Seekers
under International Law
G.
Fonteneau”
The International Labour Organisation
(ILO)
has a constitutional
obligation to “protect the interests
of
workers when employed in
countries other than their own”. In
1926,
during a period when large
numbers of Europeans were emigrating, the
ILO
adopted the first
International Convention on the Inspection of Emigrants. From
1880
to
1930,
more than
70
million persons crossed the sea in search
of work and to escape hardship, poverty and political repression.
The international community therefore endeavoured to ensure legal
protection for migrant workers and their families, and also for
political refugees. These persons now have rights (and obligations),
the tenor of which is guaranteed by international legal instruments
and the value of which varies depending on the nature
of
the com-
mitment of Member States.
I
will consider first the principal international legal instruments
concerning migrants and refugees, as well as their scope of applica-
tion, and then examine the principal measures taken by the Council
of
Europe in this field. These principal
norms
should provide an
insight into the rights of migrants and refugees at the international
level.
THE INTERNATIONAL LEGAL INSTRUMENTS
The United Nations International Bill
of
Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
(1948)
lists basic hu-
man rights which must be respected regardless
of
nationality or
national origin. Two covenants on human rights seek to ensure the
*
Director,
ILO
Liaison
Office
for
EEC and Benelux Countries (Brussels).
57

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