Regional Workshop Highlights the Importance of Bilateral and Multilateral Labour Agreements in enhancing Labour Migration Governance

Nairobi – The inclusion of labour and social protection provisions in bilateral and multilateral labour migration agreements is key to ensuring safe, orderly, fair and regular migration.


Considering this, the International Organization for Migration (IOM)/UN Migration Agency last week (10 – 11 December) held a two-day technical workshop on “Labour Migration Policies and Bilateral Labour Migration Agreements in African Union Member States”.


The meeting, which was held at the IOM Regional Office for East and Horn of Africa in Nairobi, Kenya convened technical experts from the Ministries of Labour and Foreign Affairs from Kenya and Ethiopia. 


The interaction strengthened participant’s knowledge and skills on a range of issues such as labour migration policy analysis and tools, as well as ethical recruitment and migrants’ rights.


Also extensively discussed was the issue of Bilateral Labour Agreements (BLAs) as a tool for labour migration policy implementation. Exchanges focused on the area of regulation and coverage of BLAs, and international legal frameworks for regulation of labour migration and how they are reflected in BLAs.


The IOM / ILO assessment tool, which covers labour market stakeholders, migration data, and other elements was also discussed.


The workshop builds upon a 2017 IOM-ILO project that developed guidance and capacity development tools on bilateral labour migration agreements (BLMAs) relevant for the African region.


It also complements the AU-ILO-IOM-ECA Joint Programme on Labour Migration Governance for Development and Integration in Africa (JLMP Priority) launched in 2017.


The objective is to enhance the capacity of African Union (AU) member states and other stakeholders such as social partners to develop and implement effective BLMAs, as well as to use tools for the implementation of effective labour migration policies.


In doing so, IOM and partners will contribute to better labour migration governance as embodied in frameworks such as the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, the Sustainable Development Goals, the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and the AU Revised Migration Policy Framework for Africa.


These call for active cooperation and partnerships to facilitate the governance and management of migration, including labour migration, in line with International migration law, and labour and human rights standards.


In her opening remarks, Ms. Tatiana Hadjiemmanuel, the IOM Labour Mobility and Human Development Senior Specialist for the East and Horn of Africa, noted that the workshop comes when African Union member states are keen to pursue greater cooperation in labour migration with different destination countries. 


IOM is committed to supporting stakeholders to enhance cooperation among institutions in charge of labour migration and social protection in the African region. It is also working on several interventions to strengthen management of labour migration and to harmonize policies for labour export and the protection of migrant workers.


These include policy, legislative and regulatory reforms; strengthening the capacities of the institutions involved in labour migration management; strengthening bilateral arrangements and ethical recruitment to protect human rights of migrants; enhancing the collection, analysis and dissemination of labour market information; as well as enhancing coordination of labour migration management.


Recommendations of the meeting will inform the upcoming regional ministerial meeting on harmonizing labour migration policies in East and Horn of Africa (EHOA) organized by the Government of Kenya, with support by IOM/UN Migration, to take place in Nairobi, Kenya in January 2020.


For more information, contact Catherine Matasha at IOM Ethiopia, Email: or Eric Mazango, Email: