THE SOCIAL, HUMANITARIAN AND CULTURAL COMMITTEE (SOCHUM)
TOPIC: Protection of migrant workers’ rights
COUNTRY: Republic of Turkey
Traditionally, Turkey has been known as an emigrant-sending country. In the 1960s and 1970s, a mass volume of Turkish nationals immigrated to Western European nations, especially to Western Germany. With the advent of the new century, on account of the intense migratory movements, Turkey has transpired as a transit country and converted from the country of emigration into the one of immigration. The escalation in the number of migrant workers has called a great concern about international workers’ rights for each nation.
Labour migration agreements in the early 1960s with Western European countries, most notably Western Germany, resulted in tremendous outflows of Turkish laborers. The pact signed aimed to provide these flourishing economies with the temporally unskilled workers while alleviating the strain of unemployment in Turkey. When the need for migrant workers of these countries lessened, coincided with the economic boom in the Middle East in the 1970s, Turkish workers immigrated to Saudi Arabia, Libya,… and then to Commonwealth of Independent States in 1990s. As a result of this emigration, remittances sent by Turkish migrant workers have been a major source of foreign currency input for the economy since the 1960s. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimated at least 5 million Turks inhabit oversea, which is equivalent to 6 percent of the country’s 81 million populations. Moreover, Turkey is also known as the main transit route in the European Union for asylum seekers and migrants in 2015.
Not only being the emigration country, Turkey is also a host country for many refugees, migrant workers, mainly from Syria with 3.5 million (2017), accounted for 3.5 percent of the population in this country. Other origins of migrants come from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and even Somalia. Besides the draw of a growing economy in 2007-2011, the reprieve from a tumultuous regional political climate that Turkey offers is a mass appeal to migrants. Turkey is also regarded as a “safe haven in a dangerous neighborhood”. Estimatedly, $5.5 billion of the budget has been used to aid for the refugees, which is obviously inadequate to support the exceeded number of migrants. The surmounted immigrant workers in Turkey have culminated in acceleration of unemployment in the local population, language barrier, poor accessibility to health services (only 12% of Syrians have effective access to health services), politic and security disorder,… In Addition, on November 29, 2015, the European Union and Turkey signed an agreement called EU/Turkey 2015 Joint Action Plan, under which the EU will give Turkey €3 billion to manage the refugee crisis in the country, aimed at the Syrian refugees and Iraqis and to prevent their reaching EU countries.
Witnessing the hazard of this matter, including persecution, harassment, unpaid and low-paid jobs, human right violations, poor health services,…many international organizations have made measures to cope with the issue. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has adopted 2 legally binding instruments relating to labor migrants: Convention No. 97 of 1949 (C97) concerning Migration for Employment and Convention No. 143 of 1975 (C143) concerning Migrations in Abusive Conditions and the Promotion of Equality of Opportunity and Treatment of Migrant Workers, which are complemented by non-binding recommendations. Additionally, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted resolution A/RES/45/158, also called the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families (ICMW) on Dec 18, 1990, which was signed and ratified by Turkey, and A/RES/69/167 (Protection of migrants) on 18 December 2014. As a strong and consistent advocate for the United Nations, Turkey would be willing to make our best stab with the view to tackling this matter.
That is to say, the country has taken many practical steps to address human rights abuses of migrant workers. A new legislation was required so as to achieve an effective management of the worker flows and to encourage high skilled workforce into Turkey. As there has been a demand for new law, the Law on Foreigners and International Protection in 2013, which is the core of migration policies in the country, a new law have been put forward in the politic agenda. The new law was initially intended to be legislated in 2015, but it was delayed due to the elections and political emergencies in Turkey. In spite of the unruly atmosphere in Turkish politics owing to the coup attempt, the International Workforce Law (IWL) on foreign workers was passed in August 2016. The law is supposed to manage the determination, application, and monitoring of the policies related to employment of international workforce. The labor migrants can get jobs and be guaranteed to be paid at least equal to the minimum wage, provided that they attain the work permits from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.
We have gone a long way in enhancing the migrant workers’ human rights, but Turkey strongly believes that more tactical methods must be applied to put an end to this drastic problem. It is vital that we should take into consideration these points of actions: increasing the capacity of local hospitals and educational facilities, facilitating work permits, providing more authority to local administrations, co-ordinating between local and central authorities, generating extra capacity and budget for municipalities, opening up new living areas in the border cities, increasing international aid, increasing border security, creating a database to understand refugee movements, looking at the issue objectively without political concerns, preventing begging, bolstering the efficiency in law and order, fairly sharing or distributing the refugee burden,… To conclude, the delegate of Turkey calls for all nations and organizations’ joining hands to aim for the most radical solution to this issue.