Category Archives: MMN Activities


The Mekong Migration Network is looking for a RESEARCH AND ADVOCACY OFFICER to join our team. Please see the job announcement below for details.

The Mekong Migration Network (MMN) in coordination with the Foundation for Migrants from the Mekong Neighbourhood (MMN Foundation) is hiring for the position of a full-time RESEARCH AND ADVOCACY OFFICER. The position requires the successful applicant to be based in the MMN Secretariat office in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and work 5 days (40 hours) a week. There is no special support (i.e. support for relocation costs, etc.) for people applying for this position from overseas or other provinces. This initial contract is for one year (March 2018-February 2019) and is renewable up to December 2020 depending on job performance and availability of funds.

Deadline for application: 10 March 2018

Reports to: Project Coordinator
Job location:
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Salary and benefits: 
Local NGO rate subject to qualifications and experience.
Start date: 
20 March 2018 (negotiable)
Contract duration:
 One-year contract (subject to a 119-day probation period at the beginning of the contract); renewable annually up to December 2020 depending on work performance.

Overview of the Mekong Migration Network

MMN is a sub-regional network of civil society organisations and research institutes working on migration issues in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). MMN’s joint areas of work include advocacy, information monitoring, research, capacity building and networking. Please see for more information about MMN.

Overview of the Project on Migrant Labour in Informal Sectors

MMN, with support from Swiss Solidar, is currently carrying out a collaborative research and advocacy project focusing on migrant labour in informal sectors in Thailand. The main focus of this project is on migrant labour in agriculture and fisheries, while also examining the impact of more general migration policies on migrant workers in Thailand. The project involves collaboratively conducting research with MMN project partners in respective Mekong countries, organising workshops to enhance the capacity of civil society organisations to advocate for migrants’ rights, developing materials to raise awareness, and organising policy dialogues. The successful applicant will play a key role in implementing this project along with the Project Coordinator based in Chiang Mai. The MMN Regional Coordinator will provide overall supervision of and guidance for the project.

 Roles and Responsibilities:

  1. Research on Migrants in Informal Sectors in Thailand

*Carry out desk research on migrant labour in informal sectors, with a special focus on migrants in agriculture and fisheries, in Thailand.

*Develop a research design, questionnaires and other documents necessary to carry out the MMN collaborative research project on migrants in Thailand in consultation with the MMN project partners.

*Assist the Project Coordinator with following up with the project partners to implement the collaborative research project and provide technical assistance when necessary.

*Assist the Project Coordinator with writing relevant reports.

  1. Organise Project Consultation Meetings and Workshops

*Assist the Project Coordinator with organising relevant meetings and workshops.

*Document discussions during meetings.

*Assist the Project Coordinator with writing reports about the relevant meetings and workshops.

  1. Information Monitoring and Dissemination

*Collect and circulate news related to labour migration in the GMS, with a special focus on migrant workers in Thailand.

*Alert MMN members and the Secretariat when there are urgent issues to which MMN should respond in order to enable MMN to carry out timely advocacy work. 

  1. Advocacy

*Assist the Project Coordinator with formulating MMN position papers, press releases, and other materials necessary to carry out effective advocacy.

*Pro-actively develop the MMN webpage and social media platforms to maximise their usefulness as tools for advocacy and information dissemination.

  1. MMN Webpage and Awareness Raising

*Regularly update relevant sections of the MMN webpage.

*Assist the Project Coordinator with developing materials aimed at raising awareness on key issues (i.e. flyers, posters, other visual materials, etc.).

  1. Other Tasks

*As assigned.

S/he will work as part of a small multi-cultural team and report directly to the Project Coordinator. As an employee of a sub-regional network, the position involves frequent travel.

Qualifications and Experience:


*Minimum of a Master’s degree in a relevant field, such as development studies, migration studies, gender studies, international relations or law.

*Minimum of 1 year of relevant work experience in a field related to human rights, migration, gender or development

*Fluency in speaking and strong written skills in English

*Strong public speaking skills in English

*Strong research skills

*Strong commitment to and understanding of migration issues in Mekong countries

*Ability to work independently and as part of a team

*Ability to work effectively under pressure and meet deadlines

*Excellent interpersonal and communication skills

*Excellent attention to detail

*Proven computer literacy (Microsoft Word, Excel & PowerPoint)

*Commitment to MMN’s approach and values

*Ability to travel


*Speaking and writing skills in Thai, Burmese or Khmer

*Experience in carrying out collaborative projects

*Experience doing national and regional-level advocacy

*Experience using social media (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, etc.) for awareness raising


For those interested, please email your CV and cover letter along with two referees’ contact details and a writing sample in English to MMN Regional Coordinator Ms. Reiko Harima at              by 10 March 2018.  Only short-listed candidates will be contacted. Interviews will be conducted on a rolling basis.

Mekong Migration Network (MMN) cautiously welcomes the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, signed by the Heads of ASEAN States during the 31st ASEAN Summit.


Mekong Migration Network Statement

22 November 2017

Mekong Migration Network (MMN) cautiously welcomes the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, signed by the Heads of ASEAN States during the 31st ASEAN Summit.

MMN is a sub-regional network of civil society organisations (CSOs) working to protect and promote migrants’ rights in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). Given the significant impact that ASEAN policies on the protection of migrant workers will have in the GMS, MMN has actively engaged in ASEAN policy dialogues wherever possible.

MMN recalls the optimism and excitement among CSOs at the signing of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers in 2007. Although the scope of the Declaration was limited, it nonetheless conveyed the expectation that ASEAN was intent on protecting and promoting the rights of migrant workers. With a commitment to contribute constructively to the follow-up process, various migrants’ rights networks, including MMN, joined forces to formulate the “Civil Society Proposal: ASEAN Framework Instrument on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers”.[1] Our joint proposal was submitted to ASEAN in 2009 and was warmly welcomed by Dr. Donald Tambunan, the then head of the Social Welfare, Women, Labour and Migrant Workers Division of the ASEAN Secretariat.[2]

Since then, in preparation for the formulation of an effective instrument, countless CSO and government meetings have been held, including the annual ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour (AFML).

The Consensus is a result of these decade-long efforts. On a positive note, the instrument recognises the contribution of migrants to both sending and receiving countries, and reaffirms the respect for and promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the principles of democracy, the rule of law and good governance.

While we are disappointed that the Consensus has practical limitations, since it is not legally binding and the clauses are subject to national laws, regulations and policies, we nonetheless hold out optimism in the positive spirit and moral principles expressed within the Consensus. We sincerely hope that Singapore, the next chair of ASEAN, will display progressive leadership in developing the follow-up action plan.

In particular, we urge ASEAN states to consider the following areas in developing its action plan:

  1. Mediation – While the responsibilities of receiving and sending countries are spelled out within the Consensus, greater clarity is required in terms of how respective countries will resolve situations where there is a contradiction or inconsistency in policies between sending and receiving countries. We urge ASEAN to develop an effective system of mediation whereby disputes and policy incoherence can be discussed and resolved in a constructive, non-confrontational and cooperative manner.
  2. Monitoring – While the responsibilities of ASEAN states are elaborated within the Consensus, no mention is made as to how they will work towards fulfilling their commitments. We urge ASEAN to establish effective monitoring mechanisms to oversee the progress made by member states on issues such as changes made to prevailing laws, regulations and policies to reflect the spirit of the Consensus. As implementation of the Consensus is subject to national laws, regulations and policies, there is an urgent need to develop a coherent approach to implementation to avoid ad hoc application. Furthermore, given the relatively weak negotiation position of sending countries, we urge ASEAN to pay special attention to the challenges faced by sending countries, while encouraging receiving states to facilitate efforts made by sending countries to protect the rights of their citizens overseas.
  3. Meaningful Dialogue with CSOs – In pursuance of the people-oriented community described in ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together, we urge ASEAN to continue an informed and meaningful dialogue with CSOs, including trade unions and migrant-led associations, throughout the follow-up process, notably in relation to the formulation of its action plan and subsequent monitoring and reporting of its implementation.
  4. Inclusive Approach to Rights Protection – In the GMS, where countries share long land borders and where migration is characterised by its mixed nature, it is difficult to identify migrant workers “who become undocumented through no fault of their own”.  We urge ASEAN states to take the reality of migration in the region into consideration, avoid criminalising undocumented migrants, and be inclusive in its approach to applying rights protection, such as by recognising migrant workers’ right to a family life. Moreover, given notable absence of ASEAN policies on refugee protection, we urge ASEAN to adhere to the principle of non-refoulment and provide protection to the most vulnerable members of the migrant population who are in need of protection.
  5. Uphold the Principle of Non-discrimination – We welcome the fact that the Consensus undertakes to adhere to the principle of fair treatment with respect to gender and nationality. We urge ASEAN to take pro-active steps to ensure that this principle of non-discrimination is upheld broadly, including, but not limited to, at the time of recruitment, in workplaces, when accessing social services and when accessing justice systems. For example, we would urge Member States to pay special attention to the principles of fair treatment and non-discrimination in relation to meeting mandatory “health requirements” of receiving states. Such screening should be carried out with the sole purpose of protecting public health by preventing the spread of communicable diseases and not for the purpose of discriminating against certain populations, including, but not limited to, pregnant women and people living with HIV.


Finally, MMN wishes to reiterate the significant contribution made by migrant workers – both professional and low paid workers – in the region. While ASEAN is moving towards easing restrictions on the movement of professional workers in the region, migration policies for low paid workers, who are the majority of the work force in the region, remain restrictive. We would like to highlight the findings from the recent World Bank report, Migrating for Opportunities, which states that easing restrictions on labour migration in ASEAN can boost workers’ welfare and deepen regional economic integration.[3] We hope that ASEAN will take this finding into consideration when formulating migration policies and work towards easing restrictions on labour migration. After all, we hope that ASEAN is moving towards achieving the “caring and sharing” community to which all members of society, including migrant workers and their families, feel they belong.


Mekong Migration Network (MMN), launched in 2003, is a network of civil society organisations and research institutes promoting and protecting the rights of migrant workers and their families in the Greater Mekong Subregion. MMN currently has over 40 member organisations, and carries out collaborative research, policy monitoring, advocacy and capacity building. For more information about MMN, visit:

For inquiries about this statement, please contact:

Reiko Harima, MMN Regional Coordinator

(Email or Tel +852 93692244)

Omsin Boonlert (Thai and English), MMN Research and Advocacy Officer

(Email or Tel +66(53)283259 or +66 869238313)


Download PDF version here.



[1] Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers (TF-AMW), 2009.

[2] Ibid, page 9.

[3]Mauro Testaverde, Harry Moroz, Claire H. Hollweg, and Achim Schmillen, Migrating to Opportunity: Overcoming Barriers to Labor Mobility in Southeast Asia, World Bank, 2017, page 5.



MMN at the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF) 2017, 10-14 November 2017, Manila, Philippines

The ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF) 2017 took place at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines from 10-14 November 2017 and adopted the theme of “Beyond Boundaries: Strengthening Peoples’ Solidarities for a Just, Equitable, and Humane Southeast Asia.” Although this year marks the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN, civil society across the region continue to be excluded from ASEAN development and high-level decision-making processes. For more information about ACSC/APF 2017, please visit:

On Saturday 11 November 2017, the Mekong Migration Network (MMN) Secretariat facilitated a workshop in collaboration with partner organisations, including Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW) from Cambodia, Future Light Center (FLC) from Myanmar, and Foundation for Education and Development (FED) from Thailand, as part of the Labor Mobility and Mixed Migration Convergence Space.

The MMN workshop was titled: “Bottom of ASEAN: Examining the impact of the precarious status and work of migrant workers and their families.” The main objectives of this workshop included: (1) to generate critical discussion on how current economic models and labour migration policies in the Greater Mekong Subregion and ASEAN are creating precarious situations for and further marginalising migrant workers across the region; and (2) to provide a space for participants to jointly strategise and develop recommendations for alternative development models that increase protections, including both social and labour protections, for all migrant workers and their families.

Approximately 30 participants attended the workshop representing CSOs from several ASEAN countries, including Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. The workshop commenced with an interactive activity that required participants to discuss labour rights issues in groups with people from their respective countries and report back to all of the participants. During this activity, participants listed the top 3 lowest paying sectors in their country and whether workers in each of these sectors typically have written contracts, receive at least minimum wage, are covered by labour law protections, receive maternity protections, and have access to social security. In addition, participants jointly compared labour rights situations between countries of origin and destination. It was interesting to see that jobs in the informal sector were identified as some of the lowest paying occupations across all of the countries and that workers in these positions generally are not covered by many labour protections.

The activity was followed by a panel discussion on the impacts of the precarious status and work of Mekong migrant workers and their families in the context of ASEAN. Ms. Ei Ei Chaw, Deputy Director of Foundation for Education and Development (FED), Thailand, made the first presentation. Ms. Ei Ei Chaw highlighted the situations and challenges faced by migrants and their children in Thailand, such as the difficulties and limitations involved in registering under Thailand’s migration policies, the lack of information, interpretation and consular services provided by migrants’ countries of origin, and the exclusion migrants face from accessing labour protections. Ms. Ei Ei Chaw also emphasised the fact that migrant children in Thailand are at risk of becoming workers themselves at a young age as a result of their parents’ low wages, the limited enforcement of labour laws, and the challenges associated with accessing education due to Thailand’s restrictive migration policies. Given this situation, FED is working to encourage migrant workers to establish community-based organisations to disseminate information on migration policy as well as to submit recommendations concerning migration issues to the Myanmar Embassy.

Ms. Thet Thet Aung, Director of Future Light Center (FLC), Myanmar, was the next panelist. Ms. Thet Thet Aung presented on the development and legislation of Special economic Zones (SEZs) in Myanmar. SEZ development in Myanmar was initiated in the late 2000s and has impacted workers in terms of their labour rights and occupational health and safety. Thilawa SEZ is located on the outskirts of Yangon and has been fully operational since 2016. There are two other SEZs in Myanmar – Dawei SEZ in Tanintharyi Region and Kyaukphyu SEZ in Rakhine State – that are still in the process of being developed and negotiated between governments and investors. Ms. Thet Thet Aung emphasised that the SEZ law exists for economic reasons and not for the protection of workers. She explained that workers in the zones are often faced with precarious situations and lack labour protections. For example, some workers in these spaces do not have an employment contract, get paid less than the minimum wage, are not allowed to form unions, have to work long hours, and do not receive occupational health and safety training. Ms. Thet Thet Aung demanded for the laws governing the SEZs to be in line with sustainable development frameworks and labour protections.

Mr. Kimly Lov, a project officer from Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW), Cambodia, was the next panelist. Mr. Kimly’s presentation covered the challenges faced by Cambodian women workers, particularly those working in the construction sector, which is one of the most precarious jobs available to women workers in Cambodia. In Cambodia’s construction sector, approximately 20-30% of workers are women, however women workers in this sector disproportionately experience inequality and discrimination, labour rights violations, and a lack of access to occupational safety and health protections. Mr. Kimly noted that given the tension that exists between workers and their employers and the fear of losing their jobs, it is challenging for women workers to advocate for their rights for social and labour protections.

The panel discussion ended with a presentation by Ms. Omsin Boonlert, Advocacy and Research Officer and member of the Mekong Migration Network Secretariat. Ms. Omsin provided an overview of migration policies in the Mekong that reinforce the precarious status and lives of migrant workers. Ms. Omsin invited a participant and representative of Worker Solidarity Association (WSA), a migrant workers’ association based in Thailand, to contribute to the discussion. The representative shared strategies on how to form a migrant workers’ association in Thailand even though migrant workers cannot legally form unions and can only be members of existing labour unions. In addition, the WSA representative shared their efforts to raise awareness of migrant workers’ contributions to Thai society and promote the social inclusion of migrant workers. The session ended with questions and answers from participants and panelists.

At the end of the workshop, participants jointly agreed on key words to take into consideration when formulating recommendations for the Convergence Space on Labor Mobility and Mixed Migration. These key terms addressed the need for all migrants, including their dependents, to be covered by social protections in destination countries. They also highlighted the need for countries of origin to better protect their nationals abroad; for greater collaboration between origin and destination countries in the development of labour migration policies; and for stronger advocacy on the rights of all migrants regardless of their status.

The recommendations that emerged from each of the 3 workshops and 1 open space of Labor Mobility and Mixed Migration Convergence Space were presented, discussed, and consolidated during a Convergence Space Assembly in the morning of Monday 13 November. This refined list of recommendations was presented during a plenary discussion and collectively incorporated into a statement with recommendations from each of the 5 Convergence Spaces (which covered the topics of: Corporate Greed & Power, Peace Building & Human Security, Life with Dignity, Human Rights & Access to Justice, and Labor Mobility & Mixed Migration). During the conference, MMN delegates attended other workshops to advocate for the inclusion of recommendations related to labour migration supported by the network. The final version of the statement that emerged from 3 days of workshops and discussions can be downloaded here.

Throughout the APF, MMN ran a booth where MMN fliers and publications were distributed and posters were displayed depicting the situation of labour migration within the Greater Mekong Subregion. On the last evening of the conference, MMN delegates took to the streets of Quezon City as part of a Solidarity March to collectively raise our voices in a display of ASEAN people’s solidarity.



ACSC/APF 2017 ACTIVITIES. For more photos about ACSC/APF 2017 activities, please visit facebook page: ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples Forum PH 2017 



MMN Participates in the Asia-Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, 6-8 November 2017, Bangkok

MMN Participates in the Asia-Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for the

Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

6-8 November 2017, Bangkok


On 19 September 2016, the United Nations General Assembly hosted a high-level summit in New York, which brought heads of state and government together to address large movements of refugees and migrants.[i] At the UN Summit, 193 Member States adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which, according to the UN, expresses “the political will of world leaders to save lives, protect rights and share responsibility on a global scale.”[ii] In adopting the Declaration, Member States committed to negotiating two Global Compacts – a “Global Compact on Refugees” and a “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.”

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration – hereinafter referred to as the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) – will be a non-binding intergovernmental agreement that sets out a framework for international cooperation on all aspects of migration, including humanitarian, developmental, and human rights-related aspects.[iii] The GCM is framed to be consistent with target 10.7[iv] of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to supplement existing international-level conventions, such as the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions. States have committed to finalising and formally adopting the agreement at a UN conference in New York in September 2018.

The preparatory processes involved in the development of the GCM included a number of global, regional, sub-regional, and national consultations,[v] which spanned April to November 2017 and offered a degree of civil society and other stakeholder participation.[vi] From 6-8 November 2017, Mekong Migration Network (MMN) Secretariat members observed the Asia-Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for the GCM hosted by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok.

The objective of the 3-day meeting was to “provide a forum to identify key migration issues, challenges and priorities for the Asia-Pacific region; to identify existing national, bilateral, subregional and regional arrangements in place to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration; and to arrive at a set of conclusions that can serve as a regional input into the global stocktaking meeting due to be held in Mexico in December 2017.”[vii] The meeting was attended by 35 UN member states, 2 associate members, 4 permanent observers, United Nations Secretariat, bodies and relevant specialised agencies, intergovernmental organisations, and other entities, including international NGOs, regional and sub-regional networks, and national civil society organisations.[viii]

There were more than 62 million cross-border migrants in the Asia-Pacific region as of 2017, representing a growth of more than 10 million migrants since 1990. The majority of these migrants move within the same sub-region, specifically to neighbouring countries, for the purpose of employment.[ix] Panel discussions, presentations, and side meetings during the Preparatory Meeting[x] expounded the situations faced by governments and international migrants of the Asia-Pacific region in hopes that this context will be addressed in future global stocktaking processes and within the pages of the final document.

Throughout the 3 days, side events hosted by governments, UN agencies, and civil society were carried out in adjacent meeting rooms and, in some cases, carved a space for migrants’ rights advocates and migrants themselves to shed light on the situation facing international migrants in the Asia-Pacific region. On Tuesday 7 November, the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW), ILO, and UNACT (UN Action for Cooperation against Trafficking in Persons) hosted a side event entitled: “Women migrant workers, barriers to mobility and the Global Compact for Migration.” On Wednesday 8 November, the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), and International Migrants Alliance (IMA) hosted a side event entitled: “The Global Compact for Migration and the international human rights protection system: Addressing the root causes of migration.”[xi]

Although migration policy is a priority for many states and some states are showing a newfound willingness to negotiate on such a policy, it remains unclear how governments will carry out commitments to protect the rights of all migrants, regardless of their status, particularly in an era of increased racism and xenophobia. It also remains to be seen whether the global compact is en route to supporting the provision of more options for mobility with greater respect for human rights and access to justice, or the expansion of highly restrictive circular migration programs.


[i] UN Refugees and Migrants, UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants 2016,

[ii] UN Refugees and Migrants, New York Declaration,

[iii] New York Declaration on R, Annex II,, p. 21.

[iv] Target 10.7 is to “[f]acilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed  migration policies,”, p. 21.

[v] For more information on these consultations, please visit the International Organization for Migration’s GCM website,, and the Modalities for the Intergovernmental Negotiations of the Global Compact for Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration,


[vii] For an overview of the meeting, please visit:

[viii] For a complete list of participants, please visit:

[ix] UN ESCAP, 2017, “Towards Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in the Asia-Pacific Region: Challenges and Opportunities,”, p. 5.

[x] To view the programme for the meeting, please visit:

[xi] For a full list of side events, please view the programme available at:

Keynote address by Ms. Louise Arbour, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration

Statement made by. Mrs. Kanchana Patarachoke, Deputy Director General, Department of International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand.

Side Event hosted by Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development/Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants/International Migrants Alliance entitled “The global compact for migration and the international human rights protection system: Addressing the root causes of migration”

MMN participation in SEA Junction’s panel discussion Safe from the Start

On 24 September, a panel discussion entitled Safe from the Start was organised by Southeast Asia (SEA) Junction. The event took place following the recent launch of MMN’s report, Safe from the Start: Roles of Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants. Panelists included Ms. Reiko Harima, MMN Regional Coordinator, Her Excellency Ms. Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State, Ministry of Interior, Permanent Deputy Chair of National Committee for Counter Trafficking, Royal Government of Cambodia, Ms. Jackie Pollock, Technical Chief Director, International Labour Organisation, Myanmar and Ms. Marla Asis, Director, Research and Publications, Scalabrini Migration Centre, Philippines. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Rosalia Sciortino Sumaryono, Associate Professor, Mahidol University.

Firstly, Dr. Sciortino Sumaryono welcomed the panelists and participants, and explained that SEA Junction decided to organise this panel as it was inspired by the MMN study and saw that the roles of countries of  origin was a much neglected subject in the region. She also explained that the panel is part of the ASEAN People in Flux series in which SEA Junction aims to question the current migration scheme that is based on temporary contract employment and does not provide low skilled migrant workers with a right to bring their family members to destination countries or pathways to citizenship.

As the first panelist, Ms. Harima echoed the concern raised by Dr. Sciortino Sumaryono and shared the remark by Ms. Louise Arbour, UN Special Representative for International Migration, who said, during the Global Forum on Migration Development, held in Berlin in June 2017, that countries must go beyond looking at migration of professional workers as a desirable occurrence and something to be encouraged, and viewing migration of low skilled workers as something that is undesirable and should be discouraged or stopped. Ms. Louise Arbour said all migrant workers, both high skilled and low skilled, contribute to societies and economies. Ms. Harima then went through highlights of the MMN study on roles of countries of origin. She also presented the outcome of the MMN Policy Dialogue on Roles of Countries of Origin, which took place in Yangon, Myanmar, from 20-21 July 2017, which was the Cambodian and Myanmar governments agreeing to jointly negotiate with Thailand for better treatment and social protection of migrant workers.

Secondly, Ms. Asis shared experiences of the Philippines in trying to “manage” migration and providing much needed protection to overseas Filipino workers. She said that while there are comprehensive legislations and mechanisms to protect overseas Filipino migrants in place, there are still a number of challenges. She also said that having many policies is not necessarily effective.

Ms. Pollock followed by sharing recent efforts by the Myanmar government to facilitate migration. She explained that while there are urgent matters to be tackled such as the documentation of migrants, migration policy without long-term vision does not help improve the lives of people in Myanmar, and that migration policy needs to be designed as part of broader economic and social development policies.

Finally, H.E. Ms. Chou Bun Eng presented on Cambodia’s perspectives on roles of countries of origin. She said that Cambodia and Thailand share long land borders and thus migration governance models adopted by the Philippines– a country which is surrounded by the sea– often do not work for countries like Cambodia. She also said that international cooperation is necessary to make migration governance more effective.

During the open discussion, some participants commented on the gap between policy discourse, especially at the global level, and reality on the ground. Audience members also asked if the free movement of people may be one option for the Mekong Subregion. The event ended with Dr. Sciortino Sumaryono commenting that ASEAN needs to think outside the box to facilitate migration, and provide fair employment and life chances to ordinary people.


Photo Courtesy of SEA Junction (

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