GENEVA (11 March 2015) – More than 232 million persons in the world are considered to be international migrants. Migrants in an irregular situation are thereby estimated to make up 15 to 20 per cent of all international migrants, accounting for 30 to 40 million people world- wide.
Migrants in an irregular situation are particularly vulnerable to discrimination and marginalisation. They are more likely to become victims of abuse and are often afraid or unable to seek protection and redress from authorities. The majority of migrants in irregular situations enter their countries of destination via regular chan- nels and only subsequently acquire irregular status. They are not criminals and unlike common assumptions that they migrate to take advantage of social benefits, they are typically prevented from accessing basic services when they need them.
International human rights laws guarantee to all individuals human rights, regard- less of their administrative status or nationality. This includes the rights to health, to education, to an adequate standard of living, to social security, and to just and favourable conditions of work.
Against this background, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has launched a new publication entitled ‘The Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of Migrants in an Irregular Situation’. This study details the legal, policy and practical barriers irregular migrants face in the enjoyment of their rights, as well as trends and national policies. By examining the minimum human rights standards and promising practices, the publication provides key messages to support States and other stakeholders in ensuring irregular migrants can exercise their rights.