1st Edition

Children, Human Rights and Temporary Labour Migration Protecting the Child-Parent Relationship

By Rasika Jayasuriya Copyright 2021
    322 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    322 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book focuses on the neglected yet critical issue of how the global migration of millions of parents as low-waged migrant workers impacts the rights of their children under international human rights law.

    The work provides a systematic analysis and critique of how the restrictive features of policies governing temporary labour migration interfere with provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child that protect the child-parent relationship and parental role in children’s lives. Combining social and legal research, it identifies both potential harms to children’s well-being caused by prolonged child-parent separation and State duties to protect this relationship, which is deliberately disrupted by temporary labour migration policies. The book boldly argues that States benefitting from the labour of migrant workers share responsibility under international human rights law to mitigate harms to the children of these workers, including by supporting effective measures to maintain transnational child-parent relationships. It identifies measures to incorporate children’s best interests into temporary labour migration policies, offering ways to reduce interferences with children’s family rights.

    This book fills a gap that emerges at the intersection of child rights studies, migration research and existing literature on the purported nexus between labour migration and international development. It will be a valuable resource for academics, researchers and policymakers working in these areas.

    The Open Access version of this book, available at http://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9781003028000, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license


    1. Understanding the landscape: TLM in context 

    2. Normative and conceptual framework

    3. General legal principles

    4. Article 27: Is TLM an appropriate form of assistance to parents to meet their children’s development needs?

    5. Articles 10(2) and 5: Can TLM policies better support the maintenance of transnational child-parent relationships?

    6. Article 16: Do TLM policies generate arbitrary interferences with children’s family life?

    7. Articles 18 and 7: State obligations to protect the child-parent relationship: Securing a place for children’s rights in TLM


    Appendix I: Summary of policy measures to reduce interferences caused by TLM with CRC provisions and general legal principles that protect the child-parent relationship in international human rights law

    Appendix II: Breakdown of key informants


    Rasika Ramburuth Jayasuriya has worked for two decades across government, multilateral and civil society organisations on policy issues related to migration and children’s rights. She has a PhD from the University of Melbourne’s Law School and was a doctoral associate at the University of Toronto. Rasika has held positions as a migration policy specialist at UNICEF and IOM-UN Migration in Geneva and as a senior policy officer at the Department of Premier and Cabinet in Victoria, Australia. She is lead author of ‘The Migration of Women Domestic Workers from Sri Lanka: Protecting the Rights of Children Left Behind’ (2015). 

    "Rasika Jayasuriya makes a thorough analysis of how low-wage temporary migration programs currently prohibit family unity and contribute to damaging the parent-child relationship. Outlining the massive scale of this policy-driven violation of children’s rights, she offers a remarkably coherent set of policy recommendations for States of origin and destination alike. The urgency of mainstreaming children’s rights into labour migration policies by literally "leaving no one behind" has found a convincing voice."

    François Crépeau, Professor, McGill University, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants.

    "Extended parental absence clearly affects children, but the voices of those separated from parents compelled to migrate for work are rarely heard within the "global care chain." In this brilliant study, legal scholar Rasika Jayasuriya gives these children a voice, using a socio-legal approach to illuminate their plight. She demonstrates that while labor-receiving countries pay lip service to the value of all children and their need for parental care and support, their own laws and policies routinely ignore the child development and psychosocial deprivations of those whose parents must travel long distances, often staying away for months and even years at a time, in order to earn enough to support them. A majority of these migrants are mothers who are preferred for jobs as care workers, many as nannies expected to lavish affection on the children of their employers while often barred from communicating regularly with their own offspring—much less being with them in person. And long absences make it difficult for fathers as well as mothers to re-establish strong relations with their children once they do return. In all these ways, Jayasuriya contends, receiving countries participating in the Temporary Labor Migration system clearly violate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which emphatically protects the child-parent relationship. Since most are signatories to this pact, Jayasuriya uses it as the foundation to lay a path to concrete remedies, calling on wealthy receiving countries to develop social policies that would allow them to assist in supporting children and parents who are separated while also reducing their dependency on migrant workers and investing in economic development in the low-income sending countries so that parents can find viable jobs at home. Legally complex but passionately argued, this is a necessary book for our time."

    Sonya Michel, co-editor (with Ito Peng) of Gender, Migration and the Work of Care: A Multi-Scalar Approach to the Pacific Rim, Professor Emerita of History, American Studies and Women's Studies, University of Maryland and Senior Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, DC.