Situating The Right To Work In International Human Rights Law: An Agenda For The Protection Of Refugees And Asylum-Seekers
Volume 6 Issue 1 (2013)
The right to work has occupied a central place in the human rights discourse. Yet, a vast majority of the world population survives without meaningful employment. This crisis of employment is more acute among vulnerable communities like refugees and asylum-seekers who are often systematically denied access to the labour market and opportunities for self-employment, thus accentuating the trauma of forced migration. From this vantage point, this paper examines the status of the right to work under international law and its applicability to refugees and asylum seekers. It argues that while there are avenues for the right to work of refugees under the Refugee Convention, there are significant limitations and questions hovering over asylum-seekers’ right to work. In contrast, international human rights law envisages a universalist conception of rights and thus extends to both refugees and asylum-seekers. The paper further avers that situating the right to work within the framework of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and related international human rights instruments can create new legal space for protection of refugees and asylum-seekers, especially in countries that have not ratified the Refugee Convention.