Roles of Countries of Origin: Phase One

MMN’s Roles of Countries of Origin Project seeks to protect the rights of migrants throughout the migration process from the perspective of countries of origin. During the project’s first phase, between April 2015 and May 2017, MMN conducted a comparative study into the labour migration mechanisms of several Southeast Asian countries of origin. The study highlighted the need for: 1) more effective pre-departure training and information dissemination; 2) clear mandates and coordination among responsible government agencies; 3) effective regulation of recruitment agencies; 4) comprehensive overseas assistance to migrants from embassies and consulates; 5) less reliance on migration as a long-term poverty reduction strategy; and 6) greater domestic livelihood opportunities so that migration is one option among many, rather than a survival necessity. The findings from the study were published in a report entitled Safe from the Start: Roles of Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants’ Rights and presented during a policy dialogue held in Yangon, Myanmar in July 2017. 

Project Partners

  • Cambodian Women Crisis Centre, Cambodia;
  • Legal Support for Children and Women, Cambodia;
  • MAP Foundation, Thailand;
  • Foundation for Education and Development, Thailand;
  • Foundation for AIDS Rights, Thailand;
  • 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, Myanmar; and
  • Burmese Women’s Union, Myanmar

Key Activities

In collaboration with MMN project partners and resource persons, MMN launched the research project on the roles of countries of origin in 2015. For the purpose of this study, MMN collectively designed the research with migrant advocates and local civil society organisations (CSOs) in Cambodia and Myanmar during two consultation meetings (July 2015 and July 2016). Based on the agreed design, project partners organised four consultations with migrants currently working in Thailand, one consultation with migrant returnees in Myanmar, and one consultation with migrant returnees in Cambodia. Overall, a total of 162 migrants and returnees participated in the consultation exercise. In addition, in-depth interviews were conducted with various key informants in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Myanmar, and a desk research was conducted to examine international laws and standards, as well as migration governance in targeted countries of origin. 

The resulting report, Safe from the Start: The Roles of Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants, focuses on the role that countries of origin should play in protecting their nationals migrating abroad, from pre-departure, through overseas assistance, to return and reintegration. Through a case study of the measures taken by the governments of the Philippines and Indonesia to protect their nationals migrating to Hong Kong, the report takes stock of the lessons to be learned from the experiences of the two longstanding countries of origin. Through the lens of this case study, the report examines the shortcomings and gaps that exist in the current policy and practice of Myanmar and Cambodia, the two main labour surplus countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion. The report was officially published in 2017.

In July 2017, MMN organised a policy dialogue in Yangon, Myanmar where representatives of the Cambodian and Myanmar governments, private recruitment agencies, the Embassy of the Philippines in Yangon, International Labour Organization (ILO), International Organization for Migration, and CSOs from Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and the Philippines gathered to discuss the findings and recommendations from MMN’s study, and more generally the roles that countries of origin should play in protecting their nationals who migrate abroad. Participants at the Policy Dialogue actively discussed the issues raised and stressed the importance of continuing such regional multi-stakeholder dialogue. To learn more, please read the press release and the proceedings of the Policy Dialogue. A video containing the highlights of the policy dialogue is available here.

During the policy dialogue held in Yangon, the government representatives from Myanmar suggested that they would like to have a country-level preparatory meeting ahead of the next multi-country policy dialogue on the Roles of Countries of Origin. Following this suggestion, MMN organised a one-day consultation meeting in collaboration with the Myanmar Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, and the ILO. The meeting was held in Nay Pi Daw, Myanmar, in September 2017. 

On 24 September 2017, a panel discussion entitled, Safe from the Start, was held in SEA Junction in Bangkok, Thailand, with representatives from the Cambodian government, the ILO, civil society organisations, and academia in attendance. To learn more about the panel discussion, please read the website report of the meeting.

Media Coverage