term migrant can be understood as "any person who lives
temporarily or permanently in a country where he or she was not
born, and has acquired some significant social ties to this country."*
However, this may be a too narrow definition when considering that,
according to some states' policies, a person can be considered as
a migrant even when s/he is born in the country.
Convention on the Rights of Migrants defines a migrant
worker as a "person who is to be engaged, is engaged or has
been engaged in a remunerated activity in a State of which he or
she is not a national." From this a broader definition of migrants
term 'migrant' in article 1.1 (a) should be understood as covering
all cases where the decision to migrate is taken freely by the individual
concerned, for reasons of 'personal convenience' and without intervention
of an external compelling factor."**
definition indicates that 'migrant' does not refer to refugees,
or others forced or compelled to leave their homes. Migrants are
people who make choices about when to leave and where to go, even
though these choices are sometimes extremely constrained. Indeed,
some scholars make a distinction between voluntary and involuntary
migration. While certain refugee movements face neither external
obstacles to free movement nor is impelled by urgent needs and a
lack of alternative means of satisfying them in the country of present
residence, others may blend into the extreme of relocation entirely
uncontrolled by the people on the move.
Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights has proposed
that the following persons should be considered as migrants :
Persons who are outside the territory of the State of which their
are nationals or citizens, are not subject to its legal protection
and are in the territory of another State;
Persons who do not enjoy the general legal recognition of rights
which is inherent in the granting by the host State of the status
of refugee, naturalised person or of similar status;
Persons who do not enjoy either general legal protection of their
fundamental rights by virtue of diplomatic agreements, visas or
broad definition of migrants reflects the current difficulty in
distinguishing between migrants who leave their countries because
of political persecution, conflicts, economic problems, environmental
degradation or a combination of these reasons and those who do so
in search of conditions of survival or well-being that does not
exist in their place of origin. It also attempts to define migrant
population in a way that takes new situations into consideration.
to the concept of 'migration', it is the crossing of the boundary
of a political or administrative unit for a certain minimum period
of time. It includes the movement of refugees,
displaced persons, uprooted people as well as economic migrants.
Internal migration refers to a move from one area (a province, district
or municipality) to another within one country. International migration
is a territorial relocation of people between nation-states. Two
forms of relocation can be excluded from this broad definition:
first, a territorial movement which does not lead to any change
in ties of social membership and therefore remains largely inconsequential
both for the individual and for the society at the points of origin
and destination, such as tourism; second, a relocation in which
the individuals or the groups concerned are purely passive objects
rather than active agents of the movement, such as organised transfer
of refugees from states of origins to a safe haven.
dominant forms of migration can be distinguished according to the
motives (economic, family reunion, refugees) or legal status (irregular
migration, controlled emigration/immigration, free emigration/immigration)
of those concerned. Most countries distinguish between a number
of categories in their migration policies and statistics. The variations
existing between countries indicate that there are no objective
definitions of migration. What follows is a more common categorisation
of international migrants:
Temporary labour migrants (also known as guest workers or overseas
contract workers): people who migrate for a limited period of time
in order to take up employment and send money home.
Highly skilled and business migrants: people with qualifications
as managers, executives, professionals, technicians or similar,
who move within the internal labour markets of trans-national corporations
and international organisations, or who seek employment through
international labour markets for scarce skills. Many countries welcome
such migrants and have special 'skilled and business migration'
programmes to encourage them to come.
Irregular migrants (or undocumented / illegal migrants): people
who enter a country, usually in search of employment, without the
necessary documents and permits.
Forced migration: in a broader sense, this includes not only refugees
and asylum seekers but also people forced to move due to external
factors, such as environmental catastrophes or development projects.
This form of migration has similar characteristics to displacement.
Family members (or family reunion / family reunification migrants):
people sharing family ties joining people who have already entered
an immigration country under one of the above mentioned categories.
Many countries recognise in principle the right to family reunion
for legal migrants. Other countries, especially those with contract
labour systems, deny the right to family reunion.
Return migrants: people who return to their countries of origin
after a period in another country.****
is an important factor in the erosion of traditional boundaries
between languages, cultures, ethnic group, and nation-states. Even
those who do not migrate are affected by movements of people in
or out of their communities, and by the resulting changes. Migration
is not a single act of crossing a border, but rather a lifelong
process that affects all aspects of the lives of those involved.
more information, please see in particular:
Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service, Roundup 89.
On background information on Human rights of Migrants.
18. Homepage for the promotion and protection of the
rights of migrants. It includes news on migration and links to regional
instruments and initiatives.
and integration - basic concepts and definitions.
to improve the situation and ensur ethe human rights and dignity
of all migrant workers. 1998. Report of the working
group of intergovernmental experts on the human rights of migrants
submitted in accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution
1997/15. COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS Fifty-fourth session, Intergovernmental
working group of experts on the human rights of migrants.
Gabriela Rodríguez Pizarro, Special Rapporteur of the Commission
on Human rights in A/57/292, Human rights of migrants, Note by the
Secretary-General. 9August 2002.
From Castles, S. 2000. International migration at the beginning
of the twenty-first century. International Social Science Journal,