Advancing the rights of migrant workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council: reforming the Kafala system

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Picot, Maria Dolores
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The aim of this thesis is to shed light on the need to reform, or abolish, the kafala (sponsorship) system through which the member states of the GCC operate to regulate the labor contracts of migrant workers wishing to work in their territories. While this system of sponsorship is mandatory for all non-nationals, regardless of color, religion, origin or social status, it is believed that those considered as low-skilled migrants are the ones who suffer the most because of this system, due to the structural dependence that it creates between a migrant worker and its employer. However, most of the GCC countries have no plans yet to abolish or even reform the sponsorship system. Moreover, they have refused to ratify the United Nations International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families as well as several ILO Conventions related migrant workers. On the one hand, this thesis points out to the implications of the kafala system, highlighting its challenges and concerns from a human rights perspective. On the other hand, by analyzing previous work on the subject and listing the most common human rights violations that migrant workers are vulnerable to, it gives alternatives to put an end or reform a system highly regarded as a form of modern-day slavery. Keywords: GCC, Migrant Workers, kafala, Human Rights.
Second semester University: Ca' Foscari University of Venice.
Gulf Cooperation Council, migrant workers