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Bilateral Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding on Migration of Low Skilled Workers: A Review

ILO instruments have long recognized the potential of bilateral cooperation in the good governance of labour migration flows, and in contributing to the protection of migrant workers. In the recent past, bilateral labour arrangements (BLAs) and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) on labour migration have gained significance as tools to facilitate the cross-border movement of workers across all regions.

The study reviews the evolution of bilateral agreements since the 1950s and identifies changing patterns in such agreements. The focus is on bilateral arrangements for migration of low skilled workers. It is shown that MOUs are the main form of bilateral cooperation in Asia whereas Africa, Europe and the Americas have generally relied on BLAs.

It evaluates BLAs and MOUs using international standards and norms as a benchmark, and highlights the major issues involved. For the comparative evaluation, the study draws upon regional mappings of BLAs and MOUs undertaken by the ILO/KNOMAD (Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development) project.

The study highlights the extent to which agreements contribute to ensuring good governance in facilitating labour migration processes, protecting human and labour rights of migrant workers, and reaping development benefits of migration. It makes a series of recommendations based on the analysis.

The full text can be found at:

  • international migration,
  • labour migration,
  • migrant worker,
  • low skilled worker,
  • bilateral labour agreement,
  • bilateral memoranda of understanding,
  • migrant rights
Publication Date
International Labour Office
ISBN: 978-92-2-130025-0 (print); ISBN: 978-92-2-130026-7 (web pdf)
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Citation Information
PIYASIRI WICKRAMASEKARA. Bilateral Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding on Migration of Low Skilled Workers: A Review. GENEVA(2015)
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