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OAS Report Highlights Challenges in Access of Migrants to Social Security in the Americas

  November 24, 2010

The Organization of American States (OAS) today highlighted the challenges of migrants in the Americas in gaining real access to the social security programs to which they contribute as workers.

In a study, titled, “Migración y seguridad social en América” (“Migration and Social Security in the Americas”), the hemispheric Organization presented a general picture of the relationship that exists today between migration and social security in the region. The document was prepared jointly with the Inter-American Center for Social Security Studies (CIESS), the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The full report in Spanish is available here.

The executive summary of the report in Spanish is available here.

The study’s final objective is the search for concrete and feasible solutions to the protection of migrant workers, as well as the promotion of public policies and bilateral agreements that contribute to the access of migrants to social security in the continent. Among the report’s conclusions are the following:

• Temporary work programs represent a positive step towards the promotion of orderly and regular migration among unskilled workers. Nevertheless, these programs do not guarantee real access to social security programs to which these workers contribute.

• Social security policies must be accompanied by strategies of social insertion that allow migrant workers, legal or not, to integrate their host societies. The integration of migrants is an important challenge among these diverse forms of temporary work because it can lead to segregation and discrimination.

• Economic-regional programs of integration must be complemented with measures that allow for the free movement of manpower, and for this it is necessary to protect migrant workers’ rights of access to social security as well as to adopt bilateral or multilateral instruments such as the Central American Agreement on Social Security of migrant workers. Progress on regional integration requires the adoption of measures that promote the harmonization of countries’ different social services mechanisms.

The OAS Executive Secretary for Integral Development, Ambassador Mauricio Cortes Costa, highlighted that “the study we present today allows for reflection and understanding on the relationship between migration and social security, a subject little explored but of such great importance. This is a permanent concern of the organizations gathered here today, in the face of implementing social security policies with an eye to integration and the situation of migrant workers, who are individuals with rights.”

In the world today there are 214 million people who are migrants, according to ILO estimates, 57.5 million of which are in the Americas, according to the IOM. Of them, 90 percent are migrant workers. Araceli Azuara, Coordinator of the OAS Migration and Development Program, indicated that, due to the clear connection between migration and work, “understanding the relationship that exists between social security and international migration is of paramount importance to governments, in the countries of origin as much as in those of transit, destination and return.” Further, she said that “this contribution in knowledge allows governments to develop protection mechanisms for the rights of workers that respond adequately to the needs and characteristics of the different processes in human mobility.”

The high-level OAS officials were accompanied via videoconference by Juan José Zermeño and Miguel Angel Fernández Pastor, of the CIESS; Germán López, of the ILO in Mexico; and Juan Artola, Director of IOM in Argentina.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-454/10