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"Multicultural Policy Should Conform With International Human Rights Standards"
- Adoption of “Seoul Guidelines on the Cooperation of NHRIs for the Promotion and Protection of Migrant Rights in Asia”
The International Conference on Human Rights of Migrants and Multicultural Society - Dignity and Justice for All Migrants, in commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), was held from November 10 to 12, 2008. The conference culminated in the adoption of the ‘Seoul Guidelines on the Cooperation of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) for the Promotion and Protection of Migrant Rights in Asia.’
The Seoul Guidelines include a variety of principles and procedures for ensuring the human rights of migrants through international cooperation among NHRIs in countries of origin and destination. Included in the Guidelines are specific mechanisms and activities aimed at promoting cooperation of NHRIs in Asia on migrant issues. These include the prevention of human rights infringements through enhanced human rights education provided to migrants by NHRIs in both the countries of origin and destination; development and enhancement of effective procedures and systems of relief in the event of human rights violations; enhancement of human rights promotion through the international exchange of NHRI officers; collaborative campaigns aimed at promoting the ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families; and active participation in international human rights mechanisms regarding migrants.
Through the Seoul Guidelines, Conference participants resolved to implement specific programs for the protection of the rights of migrants in countries of origin and destination, and to hold annual meetings to exchange best practices and lessons-learned in the process of implementing the Seoul Guidelines. (The official name of this annual meeting will be the 'Seoul Process').
The NHRCK, in accordance with the Seoul Guidelines, will seek to establish cooperative agendas with countries of origin, such as Mongolia, Indonesia, and Nepal, by signing Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with their respective NHRIs.
Meanwhile, the Seoul Statement, adopted along with the Seoul Guidelines, states that “Migration is a global phenomenon shaped by wider economic, social and political processes. Hence, policy discussions about migration must be located within a normative framework that recognizes the full range of all human rights of all people.” The Statement stresses that the growth of migrant communities should be regarded as an opportunity to understand and respect multicultural society. Furthermore, migrants should not be considered as merely a cheap labor force; they should be guaranteed fundamental rights in accordance with international human rights standards and the Korean Constitution. It also states, “NHRIs have a key role to play with respect to protecting and promoting the rights of migrants not only in terms of filling domestic protection gaps but also in terms of serving as a critical link between migrant communities, the state, and international human rights mechanisms.”
Approximately 150 human rights experts from government, academia and civil society participated in the conference. The Keynote Speech was delivered by Mr. Bertrand G. Ramcharan, Ph.D., Professor of the Geneva Graduate Institute of International Studies and Former Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Chairpersons and Commissioners of the National Human Rights Commissions of Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia also participated. Discussions focused on Concepts and Policies on Migration and Multicultural Society in ASEAN, Canada, Europe, and Korea; the Relationship between Multicultural Society, Human Rights, and the Role of NHRIs; and the importance of the coordination of NHRIs and international human rights standards.
On the evening of November 11, representatives of NHRIs and Conference participants visited a number of Asian Migrant Communities in Gyeonggi Province and listened to the experiences of migrant workers residing in Korea.
The Commission selected ‘Human Rights Protection in a Multicultural Society’ as its primary agenda for 2008 and it has led a variety of projects on that theme. Following the Conference and the adoption of the Seoul Guidelines, the Commission will continue to work for the promotion and protection of migrant rights through various long-term action plans, including the continued development of international cooperation.