Finding a Way to Manage Migrants' Work: the Example of Qatari Labour Regulations and the ILO Conventions

GENEVA, March 18, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --

March 2016 has seen two assessements being issued on migrant workers' rights and conditions in Qatar: a legal assessement by Prof. Christian Favre from the University of Lausanne and the Report of the ILO tripartite inspection commission in Qatar. Both are sho wing the large improvements realized by the small Gulf state in less than 3 years on the migrant workers' rights and quality of life. Both are also showing that these efforts need to be supported until full completion and could provide ideas for the management of Europe's migrants crisis. 

The migrant crisis is challenging all industrialized countries. Millions fleeing war, poverty and persecutions in their home country are finding refuge in industrialized countries in order to build a decent future for themselves and their family, creating social, economical and political turmoil in each single western country. The answer so far has been to build walls.

Voices such as UK Prime Minister D. Cameron are rising to drive another way, putting work at the centre of efforts for sustainable policies on integration.

That's why the OUS from the University of Geneva and the CIRID have supported the report realized by Prof. Christian Favre to assess the level of adherence of the Qatari regulation to the ILO principles on labour conditions. This report is published the same week as the ILO tripartite inspection commission in Qatar that depicts an even more encouraging picture of these migrant workers' conditions improvements.

With an overwhelming migrant population relative to a rather small number of national citizens, pressured by NGOs and economical interests on both ends, Qatar seems a good case study on how to organize migrant work in a difficult environment. Both reports from Prof. Favre and the ILO tripartite commission show how it is possible to enforce decent labour conditions in a short period of time, improving both national and expatriate interests and dignity.

Indeed, some aspects of the regulation and their practical implementation need to be improved (exit visa system, reporting of abuses, penalties and work inspections) and some others improved dramatically (such as the wage control system, the modification of the job's regulation, security and job changes, the abandon of the kefala system for the end of 2016). The results were achieved with the commitment of the institutions, a strong political will, supported by massive public investments. They are the cornerstones of a successful regulation benefitting every actor according to the proposed milestones. This case study could drive ideas for western countries regarding the management of a massive new migrant workforce, respecting the interests and promoting dignity of all parties.

Created in 2013 as an independent research center among the Global Studies Institute, the University Observatory on Security (OUS) follows the will of its founders, teachers and researchers of the University of Geneva, to bring together their expertise in the field of security research. It aims at offering thought leadership on key socioeconomic issues, and to act as a local and international platform for a better understanding of the security challenges of today and tomorrow.


Centre Independant de Recherche et d'Initiatives pour le Dialogue (CIRID), a Non Governmental Organisation with the Consultative Status at the Social and Economical Council of the United Nations' Presidence and General Secretary.

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University of Geneva Observatory on Security and CIRID

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