Thursday, 18 May 2017

Fostering ethical recruitment is one of the thematic areas of the Colombo Process, and the Member States particularly recognize the importance of harmonizing policies and regulations in line with international standards.

Following the First Regional Symposium in August 2016, Senior Officials of the Colombo Process Member States gathered in Bangkok, Thailand, on 18 May 2017, to advance this agenda at the Second Regional Symposium on “Promoting Regulatory Harmonization of Recruitment Intermediates in the Colombo Process Member States”.

Building on key recommendation areas identified at the First Symposium, the Second Symposium aimed to identify and agree on priority collaborative actions to be pursued by the Member States, which will also envisage enhanced cooperation with countries of destination (CODs) and private sector.  

The symposium was attended by a total of 50 persons including Senior Officials from all 12 Member States of the Colombo Process. The symposium discussion was enriched by the participation of diverse resource persons with subject expertise, ranging from COD representatives including the Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD) Secretariat; development partners and UN agencies; the private sector including representatives from employers, industry networks, and recruitment agencies; academia; and, civil society organizations.

The Second Symposium served as the first Colombo Process event hosted by the Government of Nepal after assuming the Chairmanship of Colombo Process in Mach 2017. His Excellency Dr. Khaga Nath Adhikari, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative to ESCAP, Embassy of Nepal in Thailand, in his opening remarks, highlighted multidimensional aspects of labour migration and stressed the strong pertinence of ethical recruitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Target 10.7 “facilitating orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies”.  

Mr. Shabari Nair, Regional Advisor on Migration and Development, South and Southeast Asia, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), highlighted how ethical recruitment is at the forefront of discussions at various regional fora including the ADD, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and emphasized the importance of linking with the ongoing Global Compact on Migration discussions for achieving migration-related goals in SDGs. 

The symposium was structured around three interactive thematic discussions, covering “Strengthening regulatory frameworks at the national level and among the Colombo Process countries”, “Cooperation with CODs”, and “Strengthening cooperation with private sector”.  

Based on the thematic discussions, the Senior Officials together with resource persons engaged in focused discussions on identifying priority collaborative actions around the above themes, and agreed to concrete collaborative actions to take forward, including:

  • Formalizing informal recruitment agencies as responsible stakeholders;
  • Developing guidance to formulate gender sensitive employment terms and conditions;
  • Working towards “employer-pay model” through defining recruitment fees and related costs;
  • Building consensus in national, regional and inter-regional platforms on achieving SDG Target 10.7;
  • Developing an electronic contract validation system as a means to enhance transparency of cross-border recruitment processes;
  • Creating platforms for labour market information-sharing on jobs;
  • Encouraging regular dialogue between the recruitment industry association in the Colombo Process countries and employer representatives from CODs to address recruitment related issues;
  • Building capacity of all licensed recruitment agencies in each Member State to promote ethical recruitment at all stages of the migration;
  • Creating awareness on the ILO general principles and operational guidelines for ethical recruitment and International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS) Code of Conduct as international benchmarks.

Mr. Govind Mani Bhurtel, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Government of Nepal, concluded the Second Symposium by praising the solid action points reached through the discussion among the Member States and stressed the importance of collaboration among all relevant actors to advance ethical recruitment and protect migrant workers.

The Second Symposium was convened within the framework of IOM’s Regional Project “Strengthening Labour Migration Governance through Regional Cooperation in Colombo Process countries” with the support from SDC.

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Report of the Second Regional Symposium on “Promoting Regulatory Harmonization of Recruitment Intermediaries in the Colombo Process Member States”