Wrap Up – Making Rights Reality Conference

The “Making Rights Reality: The Human Rights of Undocumented Migrant Workers” conference, held in Amsterdam from 17-19 June, was a remarkable success!

Organised by our Centre (ACMRL), the event brought together a diverse group of participants – activists, undocumented workers, academics and representatives from international organisations – to discuss and advocate for the rights of migrant workers. The conference emphasised the significance of binding legal frameworks, such as the ICRMW and ILO C-189, in safeguarding the rights of migrant workers, despite the lack of ratification in numerous countries in the global north. Furthermore, it highlighted the necessity for interdisciplinary collaboration between academics, policymakers, civil society, and migrant communities to effectively address the challenges faced by undocumented migrants. The importance of amplifying migrants’ voices to ensure that their experiences inform policy and advocacy efforts was emphasised. In addition, innovative approaches to supporting undocumented migrants, such as the HUSHU House project and the use of mobile technology, were presented as possible effective solutions.

Highlights included

  • Opening roundtable session: The conference opened with an engaging roundtable session at Pakhuis de Zwijger, where participants discussed key issues such as access to banking for undocumented people, decent work and the role of migrant mothers in decision-making. Special thanks to the facilitators Natalia Robledo Contreras and Lilana Keith.


  • Keynote Speeches: On Tuesday, Alan Desmond from the University of Leicester delivered an insightful keynote on “The Inclusion of Undocumented Migrants in the UN Migrant Workers Convention: Stepping stone or stumbling block to their protection?” This was followed by a thought-provoking discussion led by Vassiliy Yuzhanin of IOM Geneva. On Wednesday, Adelle Blackett from McGill University delivered a compelling keynote on “Labour Law and the Challenge of Informality for Decent Work”, exploring the intersection of labour law and the informal economy.


  • Parallel Sessions: The conference featured a series of parallel sessions covering a wide range of topics, such as the precariousness of migration status (examining the power and limits of regularisation), complementary protection mechanisms (discussing the successes and challenges of using different international human rights mechanisms), on labour rights for migrants in paid domestic work (focusing on the rights of domestic workers in the UK), and legal limitations on access to socio-economic rights (analysing the challenges faced by undocumented migrant workers in different countries), among many others.



  • Interactive Workshops: Sessions such as the HUSHU House project workshop highlighted the dynamic collaboration between grassroots organisations, NGOs and the municipality in Amsterdam to support undocumented migrants.


  • Poster Market: Participants had the opportunity to engage with research and initiatives during the Poster Market, with presentations on topics such as the ILO C-189 ratification process in Kenya and the health rights of undocumented workers in Europe.

We are grateful to all the participants, speakers and organisers who helped make this conference a platform for meaningful dialogue and action. We look forward to continuing these important conversations and working towards real change in the protection of migrants’ rights.

Please stay tuned for the edited volume of papers and contributions to the conference.