The Colombo process is a Regional Consultative Process on the management of overseas employment and contractual labour for countries of origin in Asia which was initiated at Ministerial Consultations for Asian Labour Sending Countries. Colombo Process is not only a forum for members to share experiences and best practices and coordinate issues of common interest on labour migration, but to also collectively enhance dialogue with countries and regions of destination with regard to the protection of migrant workers. It has a vision and outreach that is not only regional, but global.
The 11 countries are; Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam, and has met in Manila (2004), Bali (2005) Dhaka (2011) and Colombo (2014) to review and monitor the implementation of previous recommendation and identify areas for future actions.
The Geneva headquartered International Organization for Migration (IOM) serves as the secretariat for the Colombo Process. Sri Lanka expressed its interest to maintain the permanent secretariat in Sri Lanka during 2nd SOM and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) also has expressed its willingness to work with Sri Lanka and to provide financial assistance to implement a Permanent Secretariat for Colombo Process.
Sri Lanka is chairing the Colombo Process during 2014/15. As Chair –in-Office, Sri Lanka has proposed the following strategic vision for the CP.
- Recognize the vital contribution made by migrant workers to the development of Countries of Origin (CoOs) as well as the Countries of Destination (CoDs) – the development thrust
- Shift from a preoccupation of considering short term migrant workers as commodities and rather regard them as human beings and as human assets – the humanitarian thrust
- Engage with countries of destination with the view of promoting a framework of legal institutions in CoDs, ranging from MoUs to legal systems, taking into account their jurisprudence which should be equipped to resolve and adjudicate on migrant employment related issues – the legal thrust
- Expand the network of Migrant Resource Centers or other institutions within the CoOs to address selection of workers, pre-departure trainings as well as reintegration of returning migrants – the institutional thrust
- Build information systems, statistics and databases – the information thrust
In order to pursue this strategic vision following thematic areas have been identified:
- Review qualifications and recognition processes.
- Promote cheaper, faster and safer transfer of remittances.
- Foster ethical labour recruitment, common wage levels and insurance protection, the promotion of standard employment contracts specially focusing on issues of contract substitution and creating a registering mechanism for contract.
- Ensure effective pre-departure orientation and empowerment, including skills development.
- Develop a database on economic trends in the destination countries, which are mostly in the Middle-East.
This concept note will lay out how the Sri Lankan Government as Chair-in-Office of the Colombo Process will take its agenda forward with the first Senior Official Meeting (SOM)