© Reuters 

The movement of people within and across international borders is an enduring human phenomenon. Millions of people in the Asia Pacific region move within their own countries and millions of international migrants from the region live and work in countries that are not their own. The experience of migration can be empowering and for many migrants it can lead to improved human rights outcomes. Of serious concern to UN Human Rights, however, is the situation of many migrant women, men, boys and girls who face particular risks of discrimination, marginalization, trafficking, exploitation and violence, and who suffer a range of human rights violations during transit, upon arrival in the country of destination and again during or upon return.

Migration is the outcome of an often-complex interplay of drivers and facilitators. For vulnerable people on the move, these can range from more ‘traditional’ drivers of forced displacement such as persecution and conflict, to other drivers which compel people to move in search of safety and dignity such as poverty, lack of access to healthcare, education, water, food, housing, separation from family, as well as the consequences of environmental degradation and climate change. As migration governance measures become ever restrictive and regular pathways to entry fail to correspond to needs, the migration journeys of the most vulnerable are becoming longer, more fragmented, fluid and dangerous. Criminalization of irregular migration leads to widespread detention and deportation regimes, which have disproportionate effects on vulnerable individuals and groups.

International human rights law is clear that all migrants are entitled to civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, without discrimination of any kind. The actively works to uphold the human rights of all migrants, regardless of their status, with a particular focus on those who are most marginalized and excluded such as migrants who are undocumented or otherwise in irregular situations.

UN Human Rights promotes a rights-based approach to migration, which places the migrant at the center of migration governance policies and measures and seeks to ensure that all such policies are firmly rooted in international human rights law and standards. Placing a particular focus on the need to improve the public narrative on migrants and migration, the Office works with partners to confront xenophobia and discrimination against migrants and to promote at the local, national and regional levels the common values of human rights which bind us all, regardless of our citizenship or migration status.


Reports and Manuals

28 Aug 2023

Online Scam Operations and Trafficking into Forced Criminality in Southeast Asia: Recommendations for a Human Rights Response

This briefing paper sets out human rights concerns arising since early 2021 from online scam operations in Southeast Asia including their link to human trafficking and other serious human rights violations and abuse. The paper also includes recommendations drawn from international human rights standards

These concerns occur in the context of wide-ranging digital criminal activity such as romance-investment scams, crypto fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling. At the time of writing this paper, the situation remains fluid: hundreds of thousands of people from across the region and beyond have been forcibly engaged in online criminality, States within the region are trying to identify actions and policies to address this phenomenon, while criminal actors are reacting by finding ways to change and relocate their operations, building new centres across the region and upgrading existing compounds.

17 May 2023

Recommended principles and guidelines on human rights at international borders

International borders are not zones of exclusion or exception for human rights obligations. States are entitled to exercise jurisdiction at their international borders, but they must do so in light of their human rights obligations. This tool is the result of wide-ranging expert consultations to draw up normative guidelines on the governance of international borders. They are intended to inform the work of States, international organizations and other stakeholders with an interest in human rights-based border governance

16 December 2022

Human Rights and Temporary Labour Migration Programme in and from Asia and the Pacific

Temporary labour migration programmes (TLMPs) are a dominant feature of the migration landscape in and from the Asia-Pacific region, where millions of migrant workers move along these corridors usually to take up fixed-term, low-wage work in sectors such as agriculture, construction, care work or the service industry. This analytical study explores the consequences of these programmes for the human rights of migrant workers and of their families. Recognising that there are well-documented concerns about labour rights abuses on TLMPs, the study focuses on migrants’ experiences beyond the workplace, understanding migrants not just as workers but as human beings and rights-holders fully entitled to all human rights.

26 October 2022

Immigration Detention and Alternatives to Detention in the Asia Pacific Region

This Report is intended to inform and support preparations for the first International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) in May 2022, as well as serve as a useful resource for post-IMRF implementation efforts in the Asia Pacific region. This report summarises the results of a mapping of the use of immigration detention and alternatives to immigration detention (ATD) in 19 countries across the five sub-regions of the Asia-Pacific region: East and North-East Asia, South-East Asia, South and South-West Asia, North and Central Asia, and the Pacific. This report also includes an Annex with more detailed profiles for each country included in the research mapping.

This publication was produced by International Detention Coalition with the support of OHCHR, the Regional UN Network on Migration for the Asia Pacific, and the Global UN Network on Migration.

16 May 2022

Pathways to Migrant Protection

This study of the policy and practice of 17 countries in the Asia Pacific region seeks to understand how human rights obligations may be embedded in mechanisms for entry and stay, and thereby assist States to know and understand the policy options that are available to them to govern migration and promote and protect the human rights of all migrants under their jurisdiction. It also aims to provide States and other stakeholders with information and analysis of practices that currently exist in the region or have potential to offer regular pathways for migrants in vulnerable situations, including practices that have been put in place between 2020-21 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This information may assist States to identify best practices for improving migration governance and eventually for enhancing implementation of the Global Compact for Migration.

18 December 2020

Asia Pacific Migration Report

The Asia-Pacific Migration Report 2020 is a baseline assessment of the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) in Asia and the Pacific. It will inform the Asia-Pacific Regional Review of GCM Implementation, to be held from 10 to 12 March 2021. The report presents an overview of migration in Asia and the Pacific. It discusses GCM implementation in the context of the indicative clusters of GCM objectives presented in General Assembly resolution 73/326. It also discusses short- and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on migrants and their families, and recommends future collaborative action by governments and relevant stakeholders in order to achieve safe, orderly and regular migration in Asia and the Pacific. Throughout the report there is discussion of the core United Nations purposes and principles on which the GCM is based, including the United Nations Charter, international human rights law, international labour law, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The publication is the product of collaboration among the members of the Regional United Nations Network on Migration for Asia and the Pacific.

COVID-19 and the Human Rights of Migrants: Guidance

The current public health crisis caused by COVID-19 disproportionately affects people and communities who are already in vulnerable and marginalised situations. Around the world, migrants can be particularly vulnerable to stigma and discrimination and can be excluded in law, policy and practice from access to rights, including in the context of the public health and recovery response to COVID-19.

report image

2019: Seven Key Elements on Building Human Rights-Based Narratives on Migrants and Migration

Pervasive and fear-driven anti-migration narratives have flourished in recent years, offering up migrants as the scapegoats for deep-rooted societal problems related to the economy or security, and often actively promoted by those who employ these narratives for political, financial or other gain. Discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, hate speech and hate crime which result from such narratives have a severe impact on the human rights of migrants. UN Human Rights has developed a set of seven key elements to building human rights-based migration narratives in order to respond to the urgent need to reframe narratives and public messaging on migration and migrants to uphold and promote the human rights of all migrants. This toolkit is intended for broad use; including by organizations and institutions that work to promote the human rights of migrants, by migrants’ human rights defenders, advocacy and service organizations working with migrants, public interest lawyers, and migrants themselves.