Roles of Countries of Origin

  • Introduction
  • Migrant Reflections
  • Recommendations
  • Stakeholder Responses

While destination countries must rightly bear the responsibility for the protection of migrants within their territory, countries of origin in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) have a crucial role to play in ensuring that their nationals are protected abroad and receive adequate pre-departure and reintegration assistance. This holds true for both documented and undocumented migrants.

MMN believes that governments of countries of origin should work to establish fair and efficient labour migration frameworks (such as formal migration systems and the regulation of recruitment), provide overseas assistance, disseminate information, provide welfare support, and ensure the effective reintegration of migrant returnees. Other key stakeholders, including recruitment agencies, have responsibilities to uphold fair and transparent recruitment standards and practices, as well as to maintain mechanisms to protect workers at all stages of migration. 

In previous MMN research, migrant workers in the GMS identified a number of factors in the recruitment and migration processes that make their experience less secure. The following migrant reflections, drawn from our publication Social Protection Across Borders (2019), suggest a need for different stakeholders in all countries of origin, including government and recruitment agencies, to step up their role in protecting their overseas workers. 

I did not try to ask for support from the embassy when claiming benefits in Thailand. I thought I couldn’t ask for help because I never finished my contract

Cambodian migrant returnee from Thailand

I did not receive any information about the social security system in Thailand before migrating. I did not know how much I had to contribute or what benefits I could get. It would have been useful to receive some information about it. It was beneficial to be enrolled in the system

Myanmar migrant returnee from Thailand

The recruitment agency did not give me any information, I only attended a training course in Japanese language after being selected by the employer. Then I departed...

Vietnamese migrant returnee from Japan

Read more migrant reflections below (click to expand)

Since 2015, MMN has engaged with migrant workers, governments of countries of origin and destination countries, recruitment agencies, and civil society organisations to better understand how migration governance systems and recruitment processes affect migrants’ experiences. Based on the results of these discussions, we develop recommendations that ensure rights-protecting mechanisms in countries of origin respond to migrants’ needs. Learn more about our recommendations below:

  • Click here to read our latest set of recommendations for governments and recruitment agencies of countries of origin to improve migrant protection mechanisms and access to social protection.
  • Click here to read MMN’s recommendations in response to the role of Mekong governments in protecting their overseas workers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

As part of our advocacy strategy, MMN held two multi-country and multi-stakeholder policy dialogues (in Yangon, Myanmar in 2017 and Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2019) with the involvement of migrant worker, government, recruitment agency, and civil society representatives in the GMS. These meetings provided a valuable platform for stakeholders in different countries of origin to share best practices and discuss MMN research findings and recommendations. They were successful in eliciting greater commitment from actors of countries of origin to protect their nationals migrating abroad. Learn more about their responses to MMN’s initiative below (click photos to expand):

Key Milestones
Monitoring responses of countries of origin during the COVID-19 pandemic
Monitoring responses of countries of origin during the COVID-19 pandemicMarch 2020- present
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MMN has been closely monitoring the responses of Mekong countries of origin in protecting their overseas nationals during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have also submitted timely recommendations to governments in the region. Click to access our dedicated page.
Publication of Labour Migration from Mekong Countries to Japan
Publication of Labour Migration from Mekong Countries to JapanJuly 2020
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MMN published the report "Labour Migration from Mekong Countries to Japan" as part of Phase II of the Roles of Countries of Origin project. The report aims to consolidate and synthesise information on labour migration from Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam to Japan mainly under the Technical Intern Training Program and the Specified Skilled Worker, and identify issues faced by migrant workers originating from the three countries of origin, both during recruitment processes and when they are employed in Japan. Click to access the publication.
MMN recommendations submitted to regional labour ministerial conference
MMN recommendations submitted to regional labour ministerial conferenceSept 2019
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Following the Second Policy Dialogue, a Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative pledged to submit MMN recommendations on enhancing the portability of migrants' social security to a Labour Ministerial Conference between Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam (CLMTV). In the following day, government representatives at the CLMTV conference announced the creation of a joint framework on the portability of social security for migrant workers. Click to learn more.
Second Policy Dialogue
Second Policy DialoguePhnom Penh, Sept 2019
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MMN organised the Second Policy Dialogue on the Roles of Countries of Origin in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Representatives from governments; civil society; recruitment agencies’ associations from Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam; the embassies of the Republic of the Philippines and Japan in Phnom Penh; and inter-governmental organisations gathered to hear research findings from the publication, Social Protection Across Borders: Roles of Mekong Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants’ Rights, and discuss how countries of origin can expand their role in enhancing migrants’ access to social protection across borders. Click to learn more.
Publication of <i>Social Protection Across Borders</i>
Publication of Social Protection Across BordersSept 2019
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MMN published Social Protection Across Borders, which examines the role of GMS countries of origin in improving accesses to social protection programmes both at home and overseas. Focusing specifically on Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam, it scrutinises the ways in which governments and other stakeholders from these countries of origin safeguard the social protection rights of their nationals, both when migrating abroad and upon return. Click to access the publication.
Consultation on Migration to Japan
Consultation on Migration to JapanYangon, Oct 2018
Phnom Penh, Feb 2019
Hanoi, Jul 2019
Tokyo, Jul 2019
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In light of the growing trend of migrants from Mekong countries of origin travelling to Japan for work, MMN organised a series of multi-stakeholder workshops to build knowledge on Japan’s evolving policies regarding the admittance of migrant workers and to discuss strategies and interventions to better support migrant workers throughout the migration cycle. Invitees included representatives of government ministries, Japanese embassies, recruitment agencies, CSOs, and inter-governmental organisations. Click to learn more.
Phase II of Roles of Countries of Origin project launched
Phase II of Roles of Countries of Origin project launchedJuly 2018
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MMN launched a new phase of the project in response to the consensus in the First Policy Dialogue that countries of origin have a greater role to play in supporting migrant workers' access to social protection both at home and abroad. The second phase attempts to understand migrant workers' experience in accessing social protection and explore ways that actors in countries of origin can improve protection mechanisms. The project scope expands to focus on Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam as countries of origin, and migration to destination countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Japan. Click to access our dedicated page.
First Policy Dialogue
First Policy Dialogue Yangon, Jul 2017
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Held in Yangon, Myanmar, MMN's First Policy Dialogue on Roles of Countries of Origin was attended by government, recruitment agency, and civil society representatives from Cambodia, Myanmar, and other longstanding countries of origin in Southeast Asia. Participants discussed 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. Click to learn more.
Publication of <i>Safe from the Start</i>
Publication of Safe from the StartJul 2017
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MMN published Safe from the Start which focuses on the role that countries of origin should play in protecting their nationals migrating abroad throughout the migration cycle. The publication puts forward recommendations for the Cambodia and Myanmar government to improve protection mechanisms. Click to access the publication.
Phase I of Roles of Countries of Origin Project launched
Phase I of Roles of Countries of Origin Project launchedJul 2015
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MMN launched phase I of the Roles of Countries of Origin project at a time when formal systems of labour migration are taking shape in several Mekong countries. The project 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. It 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 GMS. Click to access our dedicated page.
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