Research Proposal of Labour Human Rights in the Gulf Cooperation Council
This research proposal focuses on Labor Human Rights in Gulf Cooperation Council Region. It is premised on the recognition that the government is the key duty bearer in ensuring the respect, protection, and fulfillment of human rights in Gulf Cooperation Council Region. This obligation imparts on government specific responsibilities including the requirement to take reasonable legislative, policy, programmatic, administrative and other measures to achieve the progressive realization of human rights for all its citizens. The research proposal, therefore, reflects the assessment of the overall environment provided by the government and the implementation of policies, legislation and programs related to the above-mentioned obligations of respect, protection and fulfillment of labor human rights. The obligation requires that states refrain from any action that could undermine Labor Human Rights and obliges it to facilitate an economic and social environment conducive to the enjoyment, exercise and realization of human rights. The obligation discussed here requires states to adopt, pursue and implement measures necessary to prevent other individuals and groups while the obligation to fulfill requires that the states takes appropriate legislative and policy including other measures towards the full realization of Labor Human Rights.
Introduction to the Study
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Region includes six nations namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, which employs expatriates in large numbers. These nations are known for their wealth, which is majorly attained from oil and gas exports throughout the world (Tillery 2012). However, one of the primary concerns in the GCC region in the recent times has been that of labor exploitation (Toksöz 2012). The media are rife with news regarding labor exploitation in this region; for instance, according to the Human Rights Watch (2011), of the 460 thousand migrant workers in Bahrain, “many experience prolonged periods of withholding wages, passport confiscation, unsafe housing, excessive work hours and physical abuse”. Similarly, in Saudi Arabia, there are over nine million migrant workers and “many suffer from abuses and exploitation, that in most cases lead to slavery-like conditions” (Human Rights Watch 2013; Ernst 2011). Furthermore, while there are official actions to curb labor exploitation such as raids, in both cases, the government does have effective mechanisms to deal with this issue (Human Rights Watch 2011; Human Rights Watch 2013). Decrees, such as the kafala, which is a sponsorship system that binds the workers to their employers—the workers cannot change their jobs or leave the country without their employers’ written consent—given a large scope of illegal labor activities and exploitation (Human Rights Watch 2013).
There are many challenges in efforts to promote human rights (Al-Moheiri, Salman, Hafez, Matar and Faisal 2012). For instance, there are many umbrellas tasked with these initiatives, which replicate their work and cause many conflicts (Reiche 2010). Within the human rights doctrine, the assertion is placed on freedom from torture and slavery; prevention of all kinds of discrimination (especially gender and race), right to healthcare and education (Naithani and Jha 2010). In addition, many nations have disputed about civil and political against cultural, social and economic rights (Atger and Guild 2011). In this case, some nations within the GCC have failed to adhere to ILO standards due to conflict with indigenous cultural and social values.
The study will be guided by the overall objective, which is to determine if the GCC nations can form a climate hospitable to migrating laborers in terms of international labor rights regulations.
To understand the extent of labor rights awareness in each of the six GCC countries and the degree to which the governments in these nations take steps to deal with the issue. To understand the means by which expatriate labor exploitation in these nations can be curbed. Research Questions
When all the research questions are answered, the objective of the study will be fulfilled. These questions are mentioned below:
How can the questionable labor practices and lack of responsibility regarding the issue in the GCC nations be addressed effectively? Are the nations of the migrating laborers complicit in the exploitation of their own people? Is there any truth in the recent reports and speculations regarding a potential change in the labor regulations of the GCC region?
The working conditions of expatriate workers in the GCC countries are detrimental to their mental and physical well-being, and this issue can be dealt with by increasing awareness about it in the migrants’ home nation as well as the migrating nation. Furthermore, there should be a strong political pressure on the GCC region to ensure that labor exploitations are curbed.
GCC countries and international labor rights
Questionable Labor Practices and Lack of Responsibility
Most migrant workers in the GCC countries have jobs that fall in the “menial” category, that is, they work as construction workers, house cleaners, clerks, etc., and they are employed in the GCC region with employment, housework, or farming visas (Khan 2013). Any labor laws do not protect the workers with housework and farming visas, and while there are laws for migrants with employment visas, the locals are always favored over the migrants by the law (Shah 2012; Singh 2009). The housework visas are limited to five per family while the employment visas are issued according to the financial standing of a firm (Foley 2010). Thus, the GCC nations extensively seek labor, but they have no means of ascertaining that the labor force is caring (Koren and Tenreyro 2010; Davidson 2011). The workers are fired without notice; their passports are retained by their employees, and often, they are asked to pay an amount for being recruited (Khan 2013; Auwal 2010). The importance of foreign workers—hailing from less developed nations or nations that have a significant income difference in the society—cannot be undermined; they are as necessary in the GCC nations as they are in a Western nation like Canada (Stewart 2012; van Ginneken 2013). However, the labor laws in the GCC region are such that they break down almost every other human rights decree on labor employment (Gardner 2011; Baldwin-Edwards 2011). According to the International Labor Organization, almost three fourth of the migrant workers from Indonesia between 2008 and 2010 are women, most of whom are employed as domestic workers (Pratiwi 2011; Faure and Guild 2011; Gardner, Pessoa, Diop, Al-Ghanim, Le Trung and Harkness 2013). There have been several reports of Indonesian workers dying or suffering in their migrant countries such as the death of a household maid and laborer in Saudi Arabia (Pratiwi 2011; Pradhan 2010; Rutledge, E., Al Shamsi, Bassioni and Al Sheikh 2011). However, the Indonesian government has not been able to address the issue effectively by creating adequate awareness on the issues for the migrants (Murray 2012; Besharov, Lopez and Siegel 2013). This problem is not limited to Indonesia but is widespread in South Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc., where the governments have been helpless or ineffective in helping their migrating citizens from being exploited in the GCC countries (Frantz 2013; Sonmez, Apostolopoulos, Tran and Rentrope 2011; Atger and Guild 2011). One of the fundamental reasons for this problem, is the large below the poverty level (BPL) population in these nations, for instance, in India—where the social imbalance in income distribution is noticeably large—the exploitation of children who migrate for work from the interiors of the country to the cities is rampant (Iversen and Ghorpade 2011; Amman 2011; Ahmad 2013). Another reason is the fact that there is no concept of an eight-hour working day, and there is a high acceptability of a live and work situation (Pratiwi 2011).
Labor and the Economy of Nations
Approximately ten million people from South Asia work in the GCC countries (Oxford Analytical Daily Brief Service 2013: Babar 2011). The remittance earned by these nations because of migration is crucial to their economies (Suominen 2013). Furthermore, remittances are extremely critical for drawing foreign currency reserves that help in ensuring that the nation’s external account deficits are balanced (Oxford Analytica Daily Brief Service 2013). For instance, in 2012, Sri Lanka’s documented overseas remittance income was six billion USD that was twice the documented earnings from foreign direct investments and portfolios, and this remittance income adequately paid for the nation’s current account deficit of 3.8 billion USD (Oxford Analytica Daily Brief Service 2013). Similar reports have been found in India’s documented overseas remittance income of 70 billion USD (Oxford Analytica Daily Brief Service 2013).
The blame can also be laid on capitalization (Sivam, Karuppannan and Singh 2011). Capitalist and consumerist approaches result in formation of firms (like Walmart) and organizations (such as the oil rigs and construction sites in the GCC countries) that require cheap labor to sustain a large and demanding body of consumers (Ministry of Labor and Social, Bahrain 2002; Kamrava 2012). “Many migrant workers are still locked into forms of labor exploitation that marked the birth of global capitalism… employer demand for cheap, often illegal, labor has not abated despite the spread of an evangelical form of neo-liberal capitalism” (Wright 2008, p. 197; Hanieh 2010). The World Trade Organization’s Uruguay Round in 1995 decided in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) which founded the regulations for the worldwide distribution of unskilled and skilled people within the service sector (Hanieh 2010). Nevertheless, a large body of unskilled workers, which comprise of domestic expatriate workers, continues to remain because the ideology of free trade in services demands it (Pratiwi 2011). Recent Developments and Speculations
The GCC countries have been under pressure to sign documents for international efforts to reduce labor exploitation such as the United Nations Convention against transnational organized crime and its protocol on human trafficking (UAE National Committee and Johns Hopkins co-host workshop on GCC human trafficking legislation, 2007). All the GCC nations have complied and even sponsored human rights events such as in 2008; Saudi Arabia sponsored the United Nation’s Vienna Forum to Fight Human Trafficking (UAE National Committee and Johns Hopkins co-host workshop on GCC human trafficking legislation, 2007). South Asian nations have been working toward improving this situation for their migrating citizens, but there has not been much success because they cannot fight the GCC laws and are unable to quell the need for overseas remittance and control their large BPL population (Naufal and Genc 2012). For instance, the Philippines has almost ten million workers in Saudi Arabia, and many of these have to camp outside the Philippine consulate in Jeddah because they have been refused exit visas by their employers (Philippines/Saudi Arabia: Philippines asks Saudi Arabia to waive penalties for Filipino illegal in Jeddah, 2013). As the country earns almost 20 billion USD from overseas remittances, it has requested Saudi to waive penalties for its people (Philippines/Saudi Arabia: Philippines asks Saudi Arabia to waive penalties for Filipino illegal in Jeddah, 2013). It seems impossibly inhuman that people in the GCC nations are hardened enough to make poor and miserable workers even more miserable. It is possible that there is a racist aspect to this treatment by the people, in the GCC countries. Studies have shown similar trends in Israel where migrant workers from South Asian nations are preferred over East Europeans as workers to replace the Palestinian workers that were hired before (Gee 2000). This is because Israel’s racially conscious populace assumes that there are fewer chances of the Israeli populace getting romantically involved with South Asians than with East Europeans (Gee 2000). Moreover, the labor exploitation of South Asians is also common in Israel (Gee 2000).
It has been recently announced—April 2013—that the labor immigration laws in the GCC region are about to be strengthened (Oxford Analytica Daily Brief Service 2013). The South Asian nations were already threatened by the Nitaqat decree, which requires all Saudis who are employing migrants under the employment visa to employ at least a ten percent local workforce. This resulted in many South Asian migrants being forced to return to their home nations, and now they hope that the new labor laws are genuine (Oxford Analytica Daily Brief Service 2013). However, the reports of exploitation in the GCC nations continue to pour in, and the possibility of improving the situation seems bleak. A top US official reportedly commented, “the problem of human trafficking in the GCC region is of ‘alarming proportions,’ but there is a strong will to solve it” (Singh 2009). It has also been observed that ever since the GCC nations such as Saudi Arabia became oil economies, their labor need was fulfilled by South Asian nations, but over time, this process has become explosive. All the same, the large number of expatriates in these nations has forced the GCC region to sit up and take notice of the conditions of the expatriate laborers (Storbeck 2011). The process of changing the labor laws in the GCC nations will not be simple. Already, there has been considerable opposition within these nations against such efforts: The Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry Contractors’ Committee has condemned the government’s move to dissipate the sponsorship system for foreign workers because of the fear that confidential information about the employers could be shared by such workers (BBC Correspondent 2009). Thus, it can only be hoped that there are some genuine endeavors that will help curb and even abolish the labor exploitation issue in the GCC nations in the recent future. Why the GCC countries failed to invest in International Labor Rights People faced with this issue are migrants who are especially working in GCC region; they are faced with exploitation in the working places. The GCC governments have failed adequately to address these abuses. Though work is a key enabling factor, the GCC state governments need to realize the significance of human dignity and self worth, which are core pillars of human rights. The right to work is an entitlement for human beings, which facilitates the efficient survival and development of individuals. Therefore, the region’s governments must be ready to address this issue prevailing in the region in order to reduce human exploitation. The governments in the region fail to invest in Labor Human Rights because of poor leadership in the GCC region. To stress this point, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) enunciated that everyone has the right to work. Globally, it requires all states to take steps to ensure that an appropriate environment exists in order to realize their Labor Human Rights. Effects of Poor Investment in International Labor Rights Most people working in the GCC region are migrants who relocated to seek job opportunities from their nations surrounding the Gulf region (Gardner 2011). Research indicates that these people work in poor working environments, paid poorly, and due to reduced working conditions, most of them get sick hence die due to poor environmental working conditions (Gardner 2011). Workers in the region also are not equally treated whereby sometimes suffer from mental torture. Need to mention, organizations in the region do not grant their workers right to have social security, including social insurance. The above mentioned has been a global concern whereby most states feel that their citizens deserve to be treated well despite working in a foreign state (Gardner 2011). This affects the diplomacy between the affected nations whose citizens traumatized in the Gulf region. Great relationship lack between other nations and the Gulf nation is hence poor economic resource sharing between the entire nations. This has a social influence that, on the other hand, affects the social and economic growth of all the states concerned. Diplomatic Code of Practice Political leadership is another concern that should be addressed in order to change the poor leadership system to democratic leadership that values human rights. In order to achieve equality of opportunities and equal treatment in the work places the GCC state leadership cartel must put in place policies that support and observe Labor Human Rights to the letter. For example, the following elements or policies can be included in human rights policies in order to govern how employers and organizations treat workers in the GCC region in an attempt to respect Labor Human Rights (Craven 1995).
They should ensure that workers are granted fare wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value. In this regard, no one’s wages or remuneration should be lowered on the grounds of such person’s sex, race or disability. They should ensure that organizations have set policies that govern equal opportunities for promotion in the workplace irrespective of sex, race and disability. Criteria for promotion that conforms to this right are performance-based. Every worker must have a reasonable amount of time for rest and leisure. The right to work is not realized fully for people working in the Gulf region, some are overworked for working more hours than the standard working hours required for a human being.
Human Rights Organizations on Labor Human Rights in Gulf Human Rights watch organization reports have indicated that, Migrants who migrated to the Gulf are the most affected people. The employers expose them to exploitation, exposed to abusive conditions, are paid low wages, discriminated against their race and denied permission to go home for a few months whereby the employers withhold their passports and visas for a few months (Craven 1995). Human rights organization however, advocated the need to change the leadership in the entire region. The state governments in the region should ensure that they have observed the obligations to ensure that they protect Human Rights by exercising policies, legislative and judicial practices in order to protect Labor Human Rights.
Consequently, the Gulf States must focus on ensuring adequate social security in an attempt to acknowledge the livelihood of all individuals or communities. Leaders must observe the mentioned obligations primarily the obligation against discrimination before the year 2020 when the World Cup held in Qatar a nation Gulf region. This is because, most people from various nations fear visiting the Gulf region due to the prevailing belief of the high rate of discrimination against races in the region.
How Diplomacy Contributes to Violation of Labor Human Rights As a Labor Human Right dominated region, GCC is also a society characterized by conflict in its governance. Government Institutions in the region faced with conflicts whereby, believed to rely with oppressive tycoons who oppress people working in the Gulf of their Labor Human Rights. This is the reason why the Gulf rated as the most “pessimistic” region in the world. Some of the key government institutions in the region fail to address the Labor Human Rights violation issues. They “refuse” to implement and exercise constitutional practices that involve human rights obligations. Most neighboring nations have lost trust with the Gulf region governance for lack of credibility in the mentioned areas of address. Therefore, change of diplomacy in the region could be an important step in addressing issues and restoring other nation’s confidence in the governance system and their institutions. Labor Human Rights as a Governmental and Societal Problem As noted in this paper, it is the role of governments to observe obligations at all levels. However, this issue of Labor Human Rights is not only a governmental based-problem but also rather a societal problem. Failure of the Gulf government to address the prevailing tension of a continued human rights violation in the region is a question still lingering in the minds of many especially the victims of human exploitation in the region. Government ignorance in the aspect of Labor Human Rights violation has negative effects in the lives of people in that they suffer in the hands of mighty tycoons who place their personal interests over the right to good working environments and other human rights. As the Gulf governments encourage foreign investments, the obligation to respect and protect human rights must not be overlooked. Consequently, just as there is a requirement for investors to conduct environmental impact assessments, the Gulf governments and other relevant agencies in the region should explore the possibility of demanding similar assessment for Labor Human Rights mainly on issues relating to work with dignity. Ways in which International Pressure can Change the Aspect of Human Violation
International pressure on demand for observation of Labor Human Rights is important for enhanced coherence in implementation of policies and law against Labor Human Rights violation. International interventions on this matter can force the concerned bodies to observe Labor Human Right obligations to the later. This emphasized by international human rights organizations.
Major Recommendations (Mechanisms) Diplomacy will remain insecure so long as political leadership and governance institutions are not organizationally reformed. Therefore, to put in a stop this issue of labor human rights violation, a diplomatic leadership correctly built around ideologies rather than personalities because it is the only way, which peoples’ interests, are represented effectively. Effects on the GCC Reputation Despite GCC, nations are among the richest nations due to their richness in oil and gas their global reputation is affected. Widespread and entrenched Labor human rights violation, extreme discrimination of races in the region among other forms of human rights abuse can make other nations withdraw from doing business with GCC nations. In that way, economic development of the nations could be affected tremendously. Nonetheless, many people believe that this being, not a significant problem in investments, according to my opinion it has an indirect impact on the total economic development. Therefore, the Gulf state governments must focus on the removal of the so-called “human exploitation” contributing factors to encourage investors. Leaders must also understand that economic strategy and its development and protection of labor human rights are all about people and at that their efforts in observing and implementing human right policies to expand the freedom enjoyed by people despite their ethnicity.
How the research on the GCC about international labor rights will be done
Data Collection Strategy: both quantitative and qualitative research designs will be used. Observational data and data from human rights groups and migrants’ countries regarding the migrants’ social and financial status and living conditions in the GCC nation. Secondary research and observational data collection are carried out to study the possible factors that cause labor exploitation, and the means by which they can be abolished. Sample Size: The sample size is dependent on the number of South Asians and GCC countries’ migrated data available. Sampling Technique: The migrant population from every South Asian nation with respect to their migrating GCC country is considered Research Instrument: Government databases and sites of the South Asian and GCC nations
Understanding the statistics of the research
The hypothesis will be used to determine the methods that will be used to treat the data. Both numerical and non-numerical methods will be used to analyze the data (Zikmund, Carr and Griffin 2012). For accuracy purposes, a test of significance will be 0.05. These methods will include percentages, frequency counts, standard deviations and means as forms of descriptive statistics. Inferential statistics that will be used to analyze the data include correlation coefficient, analysis of variance (ANOVA), t-test chi-square, discriminate analysis, regression analysis, factor analysis and multivariate analysis (MANOVA). Chapter 5 How has the GCC performed on international labor rights These will provide the outcome of the analysis. This will include response rate, response demographic and findings based on research questions and hypothesis.
The response rate section will be useful in gauging flow of instruments; distribution, return rate and response (Zikmund, Carr and Griffin 2012). A section for demographic data will be used to provide information about the sample and the whole population. This will provide an insight into the demographic structure of the population; age, gender, marital status, academic level, year of experience among others. The last section in this chapter will provide the findings about the tested hypothesis or answered questions (Zikmund, Carr and Griffin 2012). This will be done using tables (tabular) and graphs (graphic). These will be accompanied by texts describing the information contained in the tables and graphs. Chapter 6 Significance of the study It is a confirmed fact that labor exploitation in the GCC nations exists. The reasons for this exploitation are many. The laborers are from South Asian nations, which value the remittance earned because of their migrating workers. Moreover, the migrants belong to the lower strata of society in their home nations and have low awareness of their situations. The GCC nations’ laws also fail to provide the security that they must to the migrant laborers. It has been speculated in this paper that there is a racist aspect to this inhuman exploitation of humans by humans. While there is political and demographic pressure on the GCC nations to improve their labor laws, the process of change is painstakingly slow.
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