Wednesday, 28 January 2004

Questions (96)

Arthur Morgan

Question:

208 Mr. Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when this State will ratify the UN Convention on the rights of migrant workers and their families; the reason it has not done so to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2391/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Enterprise)

Ireland has not signed and is not a party to the International Convention on the protection and of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families.

The convention, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 1990, entered into force on 1 July last, following its ratification by the requisite number of states, 20. However, although the Convention on Migrant Workers has been open for signature and ratification since December 1990, to date only 22 states have ratified or acceded to the convention. The convention has not acquired universal recognition as a standard for the protection of the rights of migrant workers. No European Union member state has as yet signed or ratified the convention, nor have any indicated an intention to do so.

Ireland's position in regard to the ratification of international instruments generally, including the convention on the rights of migrant workers, is constantly reviewed in light of prevailing circumstances and in the context of the ongoing assessment and prioritisation of Ireland's international commitments.

Where Ireland wishes to ratify or accede to an international instrument, the Government must first ensure that our domestic law is fully in conformity with the agreement in question. The Government must therefore make any necessary legislative changes, or be satisfied that none are required, before ratification takes place. As signature of an instrument is an indication of an intention to ratify it, the Government would consequently also have to have a firm intention to ratify and, be seen to be taking steps to do so, before signing an international instrument.

The convention on the rights of migrant workers has been examined by the Department of Foreign Affairs. It would appear that, in order for Ireland to ratify the convention, significant changes would have to be made across a wide range of existing legislation, including legislation addressing employment, social welfare provision, education, taxation and electoral law. These changes would also have implications for our relations with our EU partners and the acceding states to the Union, none of whom have signed or ratified the convention — or have signalled an intention to do so — and possibly for the operation of the common travel area between Ireland and the UK.

There are no plans at present to introduce the changes in the areas above which would be necessary before Ireland could ratify or consider signing the convention.

It should be noted that the rights of migrant workers and their families are already comprehensively protected under existing legislation. In addition the human rights of migrant workers and their families are protected under the Constitution and by Ireland's commitments under international human rights instruments to which the State is party.