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December 18 – International Migrants Day

December 18 is International Migrants Day. On this day in 1990, the UN General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Ten years later, International Migrants Day appeared on our calendars. The celebration of this day aims to promote respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people living outside the country of origin.

Who is a migrant?

Currently, there is no generally accepted international definition of “migrant”. Therefore, economic migrants, refugees, and people seeking international protection are often referred to as “migrants” in the media and international discourse. For example, the UN considers migrants as a people who have lived abroad for more than a year, regardless of the reason for moving. The UN Statistical Office understands international migration as the movement of civilians from one country to another with a change of residence. Therefore, statistics in this area do not include data on persons employed on a seasonal or short-term basis. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) refers to the term “migrant” in all cases where the decision to migrate is made voluntarily for their own convenience and without external influence factor of coercion.

On the other hand, refugees leave their country of residence due to war and/or persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political beliefs or membership of a particular social group. Thus, every refugee will be a migrant, but not every migrant is a refugee.

International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families

Today, the number of people living outside their homeland has already exceeded 220 million. No matter why a person leaves their country, they may face problems such as difficulties in legalizing residence and employment, social insecurity, and hostile nationalist attitudes towards migrants.

The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, adopted in 1990, is the most comprehensive international treaty on migration and the protection of human rights. The purpose of the Convention is to ensure access to health care, adequate working conditions and social protection for all migrants on the same basis as for citizens of the host country. As of 2020, 39 countries have signed the Convention, and 56 have ratified. Poland is not included in this list.

The 2020 pandemic has changed the lives of people around the world, but migrants in different countries turned out to be a particularly vulnerable social group. Today’s holiday reminds us once again that in a globalized world, we are safe only when everyone is protected. Therefore, no one can be excluded.

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