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Facilitating access to social protection for migrants & refugees through Law Clinics

Objective, Strategy and Outcomes

To achieve better access to social protection of migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers in Europe, a partnership between the ILO, the International Training Centre of the ILO (ITC-ILO) and the interested University from the European Network for Clinical Legal Education (ENCLE) has been established.  Together these partners can bring together:

  • interest and knowledge of academia and students from the ENCLE network law clinic’s as well as from local actors (including local attorneys, civil society staff, TUs representative, employers organisations) working with migrants (including migrant workers, asylum seeker and refugees) at local level;
  • ITC-ILO’s experience in developing participative and innovative learning tools and training activities in particular in the field of  labour migration and social protection
  • ILO’s expertise in providing advisory services to countries on extending social protection to migrants in line with international labour standards (see point 5 on the institutional framework for more information on the role of these actors)


The overall objectives of this partnership (between the ILO, ITC and ENCLE and interested university law clinics and other local actors) are the following:

  1. establish a solid evidence base as regards migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers’ access to decent work and social protection in Europe;
  2. develop practical guidance and material for concrete application by local actors that responds  to actual expressed needs and specific circumstances; and
  3. increase better access to decent work and social protection of migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers in Europe.


Engaging directly with local actors, such as universities and groups that are the first line of contact of migrants and refugees, can help provide a very critical but also timely and locally appropriate response to the precarious situation of the rising number of these persons. The partnership will therefore serve to fill knowledge gaps through research on the human and labour rights of regular and irregular migrant workers, asylum seekers and refugees in particular regarding access to decent work and to social protection. The compilation and analysis of information will then be transformed into user-friendly material for migrant workers, asylum seekers and refugees, and also practical tools for local actors (i.e. civil society organizations, trade unions, employers organisations and other institutions working with migrants), on how to access existing services and benefits. The material will be made available and disseminated at the local level through existing organizations working with migrant workers and refugees as well as e-platforms and networks. The partnership will therefore serve to promote learning and knowledge sharing.


Targeted universities and their law clinics will be those part of ENCLE, which connects law clinics established in various European countries with the aim of promoting the values of social justice and diversity, improving the quality of the legal education through a practical approach and fostering awareness of fundamental rights. The selection will be decided mutually between the universities and their law clinics as well as ILO, ITC and ENCLE and will depend on interest, relevance, availability, timing, geography and financing.  It can be noted that as regards the students participating through the legal clinics, the activities of this initiative are meant to count towards the completion of their curriculum and they will be evaluated by their respective universities on the products they produce in this context.


This project will be initially carried out through a three-phase strategy.  The three phases are as follows:

  1. Turin Pilot phase- partnership between IUC, ITC-ILO and ILO

 A first pilot phase is currently taking place which commenced in the first quarter of 2016 and is due to end in the last quarter of 2016.  The pilot phase is a partnership between the International University College of Turin (IUC), and more specifically IUC’s Human Rights and Migration Law Clinic (HRMLC), ITC-ILO and ILO as described under point 6, lessons learned, below. The objective of this phase is to carry out the pilot of the project and to take stock of lessons learned for the following phases and in particular as regards the proposed objectives but also the specific outputs and activities that should frame the project.


  1.  Extension phase – extend partnerships with another 10 law clinics

A second phase will take place between the final quarter of 2016 and the final quarter of 2017 and will seek to extend the initiative to other localities by engaging with other universities and their legal clinics. The objective is to replicate the experience of the pilot phase in other clinics throughout Europe that are part of ENCLE and create synergies between the clinics and the international partners. This phase will aim both at developing new partnerships between law clinics and local and international actors and at creating an easily accessible European database providing information and comparative studies on right to decent work and access to social protection for migrant workers, asylum seekers and refugees in the countries involved.


  1. Consolidation phase – maintain built partnerships and extend to other interested Universities

A third phase, is expected for 2018 with the objective to build on the second phase and continue extending partnerships with more Universities and legal clinics thereby extending the network of clinics and knowledge development and sharing capacity.


The expected outcomes for the three phases of this strategy include:

  1. Migrants, local actors and other stakeholders awareness has been raised;
  2. Migrant awareness on their rights access to decent work and social protection is increased;
  3. Knowledge on the subject matter has been enhanced;
  4. Partnerships have been built and consolidated and extended.