ASEAN integration and migrant workers in Greater Mekong Subregion



Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) consists of 6 states of the Mekong River basin, namely: Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China (PRC, specifically Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region), Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam.


The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) is a natural economic area bound together by the Mekong River, covering 2.6 million square kilometers and a combined population of around 326 million. In 1992, with assistance from ADB, the six countries entered into a program of subregional economic cooperation.

GMS has experienced a great number of migrant workers. According to Mekong Migrant Network, there are approximately 3 millions migrant workers.

The number of migrant workers has been increasing, however they are facing with many difficulties including being abused and exploited, working without labor contract, low wages, poor living conditions, being discriminated. Besides, the legal mechanism in GMS countries is incompatible and ineffective, which causes the rights of migrant workers are unprotected. Furthermore, the awareness among migrant workers themselves about their rights have been low.


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Ảnh: Hội nghị các nước thành viên tiểu vùng sông Mê Kông về lao động di cư lần thứ 6 (nguồn:

Workshop on ASEAN Integration and Labour Migration in the Mekong, 16-17 March 2015

On 16-17 March 2015, at the Imperial Garden Hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Mekong Migrant Network (MMN) along with Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW) hosted a Workshop on ASEAN Integration and Labour Migration in the Mekong. The workshop was held with the support of Oxfam. More than 60 participants from civil society organizations (CSOs), intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), research institutions and private foundations from throughout the GMS took part in the workshop which aimed to strengthen the understanding of the link between ASEAN integration and labor migration in the Mekong, and exchange their knowledge on ASEAN human rights mechanisms and jointly explore areas of action.

Plenary sessions were conducted on topics including “ASEAN Economic Integration and Implications for Labour Migration in the Mekong” and “Human Rights Mechanisms within ASEAN”

The workshop also provided an opportunity for participants to examine and discuss potential opportunities for civil society engagement with ASEAN, and brainstorm future advocacy opportunities for ASEAN bodies including AICHR, ACWC, and AFML.Bai 5 (5)

MMN 6th biennial General Conference, 18-19 March 2015

MMN’s 6th biennial General Conference was held on 18-19 March 2015 in Phnom Penh Cambodia. The General Conference is open to all MMN members, and 26 participants attended this GC. The General Conference also elected new members of the Steering Committee. Ms. Hoang Thu Trang from MSD was elected to hold a regular seat in the Committee.

Other members of Steering Committee 2015 are:

Thailand (regular seat): Mr. Brahm Press, MAP Foundation

Cambodia (regular seat): Mrs. Chhan Sokunthea, The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)

China (regular seat): Ms. Han Jialing, Migrant Workers’ Education and Action Research Centre (MWEARC)

Laos (regular seat): Ms. Oulavanh Sinsamphanh, National University of Laos (term extended until March 2016)

Burma/Myanmar (regular seat but currently vacant): As members are new to MMN, it was decided that a new SC will be elected after one year, in March 2016.

Burmese community in Thailand (special seat): Mr.Htoo Chit, Foundation for Education and Development (FED)

Photo: Members of Steering Committee 2015 (source: