“Migration and Human Rights”

August 12 – August 23, 2013



The Summer Institute in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights is a regionally based workshop held in partnership with organizations in Southeast Asia to consider key international humanitarian law and human rights issues, past and present, facing the region. Established in 2008, the Summer Institute is designed for participants working across a broad range of fields and disciplines and is best suited to those working within the Asia Pacific region, whose work has an Asia Pacific focus, or who wish to engage in comparative analysis regarding the application of IHL and human rights instruments as they apply in historical and political context of the region. 

The sixth annual Summer Institute will return to Indonesia this year, after two years away. This is the third time for Indonesia to host the Summer Institute.  Previous programs were conducted in 2009 and 2010, in cooperation with the National Human Rights Commission of Indonesia (Komnas HAM). The 2013’s course will focus on the topic of migration and human rights. In keeping with the rationale behind the establishment of the Summer Institute, the curriculum will focus primarily on case studies from Asia Pacific countries, while encouraging comparative exploration with other regions of the world.


The partners have elected to focus on the topic of “Migration and Human Rights” in 2013, as this represents a pressing issue for ASEAN member states, regional neighbors, and beyond. The issue of economic migration is of particular importance to the Southeast Asian region, since ASEAN comprises a mix of sending, receiving, and transit countries for both documented and undocumented workers. Many human rights issues confronting the region, including sexual abuse, trafficking, and discrimination against stateless children, stem from widespread economic migration, and are exacerbated by economic disparities within countries and across borders. This year’s course will touch upon many interrelated aspects of this topic, including international labor law, trafficking protocols, international refugee law, and legal protections for especially vulnerable groups, including stateless persons, women and children, and migrant detainees.

The topic for the sixth annual Summer Institute is timely, considering that the issue of migration has been identified as one of the priority human rights topics for both the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the ASEAN Commission on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC). It has been five years since the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers was drafted in 2007, leading to the establishment of a Committee on Migrant Workers.  The topic is also timely for the host country, Indonesia, as the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families was ratified last year by Indonesia (mid-2012), and many observers are now keen to see whether ratification of this treaty will lead to a greater recognition of migrants’ rights.


The course aims to provide participants with skills and knowledge that will: (a) enhance their performance in IHL and IHRL related fields (be it as judges, lawyers, government officials, NGO workers, or academics) or as observers of those working in those fields; and (b) promote skills-development that will enhance the effectiveness of reporting, analysis, investigation, and prosecution of human rights violations;

The workshop thus: (1) contributes to development of professional expertise, (2) broadens the perspective of participants by engaging them in regionally focused analysis and discussion, and (3) assists in developing ASEAN wide networks of human rights professionals working in the broad area covered by issues pertaining to migration and human rights.

The program aims to develop both the legal and political knowledge of the participants, and also the practical skills necessary for people whose work concerns the nexus between business and human rights. Unlike similar short courses offered in Europe and North America, the Summer Institute focuses primarily on the Asia Pacific region, using case studies and examples from across the ASEAN countries as its starting point for discussion and debate.

Timeline and Faculty

The Summer Institute is a two-week course that includes a mix of lectures, group discussions, and, where appropriate and feasible, field study. We anticipate that in 2013, the faculty will include distinguished practitioners and experts from the region and beyond, e.g., the UN Committee on Migrant Workers, the ACWC and AICHR, ILO, UNFPA, UNOHCHR as well as resource speakers from the Civil Society Organizations.

Who Should Apply

The Summer Institute is aimed at professionals and practitioners working throughout a broad range of fields. This includes human rights advocates, labor activists, humanitarian workers, legal officers, advanced (graduate-level) students, academics, government officials, members of international or regional organizations, and journalists. Although the course is open to participants internationally, individuals who show a strong interest in migration-related topics as they pertain to the Asia Pacific region specifically, and those living within ASEAN countries, are particularly encouraged to apply.  In 2013, we anticipate making 30 places available for this course.

Application materials are available online at:

Specific inquiries may be sent via email to:

Course Fee

Unless supported by one of our limited scholarships, participants are expected to pay a USD $2,000 tuition fee, which is separate from any travel, lodging and meal expenses they incur in order to attend the course. The co-organizers always endeavor to provide scholarships for qualified participants who show the greatest financial need.

Course Synopsis

The course will offer participants an overview of the international legal framework on migration, followed by a series of focused topic-studies throughout the two weeks of the program. Subsequently, participants will have discussions with practitioners from the government and non-government sectors, exposure to case studies from the region, and opportunities to share experiences on challenges and issues related to migration. Subjects we will cover include: Trends of Movement and Selected Migration Policies in the Asia Pacific, Exploitation of Migrants, Asylum and Citizenship, Social Protection and Freedom from Inhumane Treatment, and International and Regional Cooperation.  The exact schedule is subject to change, but currently we envision the following division of time across topics.

Day 1: Overview of the International Legal Framework on Migration

The course will begin with a brief overview of common migration terminologies and the international legal framework governing international migration, and the legal framework governing international migration. Participants will study the applicable provisions in the International Bill of Human Rights (UDHR, ICCPR, ICESCR), and progress to instruments that protect specific groups, including other core human rights instruments (CRC, ICERD, CEDAW, CAT, ICRMW), and instruments on international criminal law, humanitarian law, refugee law, nationality law, and law of the sea.  In this part of the curriculum, participants will also consider challenging areas in the system of laws that protect migrants, including issues relating to equality and non-discrimination, protection of irregular migrants, and protection of economic and social rights of non-citizens.

Day 2:  Trends of Movement and Selected Migration Policies in Asia Pacific

After presenting an overview of the legal framework governing international migration, to contextualize the discussions in the following days, the course will present the patterns, causes, and consequences of migration in the Asia Pacific region. Current developments, such as the increase in the number of women migrants and “forced migrations” of persons fleeing recent armed conflict, prosecution, and calamities will be highlighted.

Focus will then move on to how states balance their authority and responsibilities relative to migration, particularly what policies they adopt regarding nationality/citizenship, admission, stay, detention, and expulsion. This will be done through a series of sessions on how countries, particularly in the Asia Pacific region, formulate policies to restrict or promote migration, protect migrants, and respond to concerns of irregular migration and forced migration. The mechanisms established and challenges in implementing these policies will also be explored. Discussion activities will focus on how the migration policies in the region measure against international standards and how these policies influence migration patterns.

Days 3-4: Exploitation of Migrants

Activities on Days 3-4 will focus on the exposure of migrants to exploitation at the places of destination. Vulnerable groups, including women, children, and migrants who enter and/or remain in the country through illegal or irregular channels, will be given special attention. The link between voluntary migration and trafficking is complex. To illustrate, in the Mekong Sub-Region, authorities have stated that, in many cases, children choose to migrate voluntarily and are not coerced or deceived at the place of origin, but they unfortunately end up being exploited at the place of destination. Nonetheless, these children are considered as trafficked persons under the Palermo Protocol. Conditions during hiring and placement of some migrant workers are also such as would amount to trafficking. Aside from considering abuses against economic migrants, the prevalence of exploitation or abuse against women who migrate for marriage will also be discussed. Properly identifying trafficked persons versus exploited voluntary migrants is important because they are entitled to different remedies.

The curriculum will then draw attention to the regional implementation of international instruments that govern protection of migrants from sexual and labor exploitation. Measures addressing exploitation and trafficking, both within a state and in cooperation with other countries at the regional level, e.g. the Bali Process and the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative Against Trafficking (COMMIT), will be presented. The role of the UN agencies and CSOs in this area is also part of the curriculum. The provisions of the Convention on Domestic Workers, which will enter into force in September this year, including the campaign to have the Convention ratified, will also be discussed.           

Days 5-6: Asylum and Citizenship

Focus on Days 5-6 will be given to the situation of refugee communities and stateless migrants in the region. Presentations will illustrate available protection mechanisms and consider solutions to issues relating to the legal protection network in the region. This is particularly important considering that, in South-East Asia, only Cambodia and the Philippines are parties to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its Protocol, Philippines is the only state that is party to the Convention related to the Status of Stateless Persons, and no country in the sub-region has yet acceded to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

Most of the second day on this topic (Day 6) will be devoted to case studies on recent issues in the region, including indigenous populations in Myanmar fleeing to relocate mostly in Thailand; and refugees and undocumented/stateless migrants and their children, including of Burmese and Filipino descent, in Malaysia and the country’s “Arrangement on Transfer and Resettlement” with Australia. The course will also discuss the process of solving the protracted refugee situations of people in Asia Pacific, such as those from West Papua, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan (who mostly settled in Nepal).

Presentations and discussion activities will consider the consequences of forced relocation, the process of identifying and distinguishing between internally displaced persons, refugees, and stateless migrants, and what opportunities these groups have for their future, including options of return or resettlement. Participants will be asked to consider these real situations and suggest responses in accordance with international standards.

Day 7: Right to Found a Family, Social Protection, & Freedom from Inhumane Treatment

After concluding discussions on asylum and citizenship, the course will continue to present other prevalent human rights issues in migration in the region. Participants will hear presentations on the situation of migrants relating to family rights, including restrictions on marriage and pregnancy, and availability of social protection, including in the form regulations against discrimination in terms of gender, race, and citizenship, legal recognition, and access to basic services, such as health, education and legal support. The course will also study how states observe the rights of migrants to be free from inhumane treatment.

Day 8: State Protective Measures, and Documenting Human Rights Issues

Focus will then turn to measures by sending and receiving countries to protect migrants from human rights violations. While policies to manage the flow of migration were explored on Day 2, discussions in this session will focus on exemplary government practices to prevent and respond to human rights abuses inflicted on migrants.

Thereafter, the course will proceed with presentations by CSOs on their experience in documenting human rights issues in migration, including an overview of available data and research on the topic in the region. Participants will then engage in discussion activities to share practices and challenges in monitoring human rights issues in migration.

Day 9: International and Regional Cooperation

The seminar will then look at the development of networks among states within and beyond the region. Particular attention will be given to the impact of the imminent ASEAN Community. This will be done by presenting and discussing ASEAN documents, including the three ASEAN Community Blueprints. The curriculum will also focus on the European Union’s regional integration and lessons learned from this experience. Discussion activities will tackle the expected benefits and challenges that the ASEAN Community will bring and efforts by the ASEAN Member States to prepare for the integration.

Day 10:  Setting Priorities and Reviewing Policies

On the final day of the course, participants will focus on how we go about laying and modifying the migration policy agenda in the ASEAN region and beyond. Having used the previous days of the course to explore the human rights issues in migration and the activities being undertaken to address them, the final day will consider the role of regional commissions such as ASEAN’s Commission for Women and Children and the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, to discuss how these types of bodies can best meet the challenges that are facing the region.

The application deadline is 15 May 2013. Applicants are encouraged to apply early, and will have the greatest chance of receiving one of a limited number of scholarships (assuming their application complies with scholarship conditions and fund availability) if they do so. 

Recommendations are likewise due by 15 May 2013.