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Extending social protection to migrant workers and their families in the African Union

The African Union (AU) Migration Policy Framework recognizes that “migration will be a major topic in the 21st Century and will therefore pose certain social, economic and political challenges for policy makers in the future management of migration for the betterment of African societies”.

Recently, in January 2018, AU Member States adopted the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to the Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment in Kigali (Popularly known as the AU Free Movement Protocol). The Protocol recognizes the right to social security for migrants, among other rights, and urges Member States to facilitate the portability of social security through bilateral, regional or continental arrangements through (Art.19). 

At the global level a Global Compact for Safe Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) has been negotiated and will be adopted in Marrakesh in December 2018. The GCM calls for a comprehensive approach to migration governance through 23 objectives. Objective 22 specifically focuses on establishing mechanisms for the portability of social security entitlements and earned benefits. Moreover, access to Social protection and services, including social protection floors, is also recognized to achieve the objectives of the Global Compact.  

The ILO promotes rights at work, encourages decent work opportunities, enhances social protection and strengthens dialogue on work-related issues. Extending social security access and portability to migrant workers and their families will realise numerous continental policy priorities and goals. In this regard, the ILO under the Joint Labour Migration Programme (JLMP) is implementing an EC funded project: Extending social protection access and portability of benefits to migrant workers and their families in selected RECs in Africa. The project aims to extend social protection to migrant workers, including those in the informal economy, and their families, through strengthening the capacities of RECs to provide and drive the implementation of regional social protection and migration frameworks.