Blog post written by Ulrike Brandl (University of Salzburg) and forms part of a series of blog posts examining the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.


Objective 16 of the Global Compact on Migration aims to increase the empowerment of migrants and societies to realize full inclusion and social cohesion. Indicators showing the fulfilment of these goals comprise two main categories. The first one is the level of migrants’ access to social, economic and cultural rights in the receiving state and the second one encompasses references that show the visibility of migrants’ inclusion and their contributions to the positive development of societies of these states. Both are equally important for the determination whether Objective 16 is achieving its goals in practice. Whereas the first category of indicators is frequently used in human rights monitoring systems, the second denomination is less developed and enfolds not only the perspectives and expectations of migrants but also those of receiving societies.

1. Indicators showing the level of migrants’ access to economic, social and cultural rights

The first category of indicators plays a crucial role in the reporting systems established by international human rights treaties. The most important treaty with regard to social rights is the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR). Its Article 16 requires State Parties to report about the measures which they have adopted and the progress made in achieving the observance of the rights guaranteed in the Covenant. These reporting obligations include the most important factors with regard to social inclusion, such as food, housing, health and health care, education and social protection. Indicators also cover access to work, unemployment rate and other work-related issues.

The guidelines for the reports require that states provide data for the level of social, economic and cultural rights disaggregated for the main population groups. The guidelines however do not specifically mention migrants, with the exception that developing countries have to report to what extent they guarantee rights to non-nationals in case they apply restrictions to non-nationals based on the exception clause in Article 2 paragraph 3 CESCR.

In order to get detailed data about the level of social inclusion of migrants, all state reports should provide information disaggregated for migrants. This data would allow a deeper insight into the realisation of these rights for non-nationals. In practice several state reports already comprise these data. These reports serve as a good example for the amendment of reporting guidelines.

The present guidelines comprise general and specific obligations and indicators which should allow the observance and progress made in its realization. Among the main detailed indicators the following ones are crucial for a data collection on the level of migrants’ social inclusion. These are the share of (household) consumption expenditures on food, housing, health and education, the unemployment rate, per capita income, net enrolment ratio in primary and secondary education, attendance and drop-out rates in primary and secondary education, teacher-student ratio in public funded schools and literacy rates. As Objective 16 has a clear focus on integration into the labour market and refers specifically to decent work, all indicators about employment are crucial as well. In addition indicators about the social security coverage in the state, build a very important source.

Reporting guidelines for reports to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination under Article 9 paragraph 1 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination CERD  also include indicators on economic, social and cultural rights, in particular the right to work, the right to form and join trade unions, access to basic health and welfare, the right to housing, education, public health, medical care, social security and social services. The guidelines also include the right to equal participation in cultural activities. Indicators for this goal are of significant importance for objective 16. States parties should, for example, report (a) on measures taken to enhance the right of all persons without discrimination to participate in cultural life, while at the same time respecting and protecting cultural diversity; (b) on measures taken to encourage creative activities by persons belonging to groups protected under the Convention, and to enable them to preserve and develop their culture; (c) on measures taken to encourage and facilitate their access to the media, including newspapers, television and radio programmes, and the establishment of their own media; (d) on measures taken to prevent racial hatred and prejudice in competitive sports; and (e) on the status of minority, indigenous and other languages in domestic law and in the media. The guidelines as well as the CERD do not refer to migrants specifically. Again reports revealing data disaggregated for migrants specifically would be important sources.

Furthermore the guidelines for reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child about the measures they have adopted which give effect to the rights recognized in the Convention about the Rights of the Child (CRC) include social cultural and economic rights and indicators for the realisation of these rights. Though objective 16 does not explicitly mention children – a deficit mentioned in the commentary –, data related to social inclusion of children are quite important for a full realisation of the objective social inclusion.

As the object and purpose of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families is the protection of migrants all reporting guidelines cover the situation of migrants. Due to the still low number of Sate Parties reports are only submitted for the small number of Sates and data on key receiving states are not available.

The level of guarantees of economic, social and cultural rights with regard to migrants is the most important element of their social inclusion. Only if the level is equal to citizens and permanent residents, migrants are full members of societies.

The Universal Periodic Review mechanism also comprises the actual status of social rights in the reporting states. States often include comments on their aims to reach the goal of inclusive societies. The UN compilation of documents combined with the reports refers to criticism expressed by the above mentioned committees. The third set of materials used for the review comprises stakeholders’ submissions. These allow an insight into the comments from other perspectives than the state-oriented one. The documents provided by stakeholders show critical issues also with regard to social rights (not) granted to non-nationals. Furthermore these documents refer to obstacles in creating inclusive societies.

These documents provide indicators for the second part of Objective 16. The second part requires benchmarks that show how far migrants are included into the societies of these states and how far their contributions are visible in the receiving societies and are seen as positive and valuable contributions to the development of these societies.

2. Indicators showing the level of inclusion of migrants into the societies of receiving states

Objective 16 not only intends to foster the inclusion of migrants but also to make contributions of migrants more visible and to increase public awareness about the positive impact of migration. Indicators that allow an insight into the realisation of this goal are less developed. Recent initiatives – created mainly by non-state actors – allow the measuring of the public awareness of these contributions. Also several European Union initiatives intend to develop these indicators. Based upon the pilot study Indicators of immigrant integration published in 2011, the proposals were further developed and published by the European Commission in the report Using EU indicators of immigrant integration in 2013. In 2015 the European Commission together with the OECD released a report on indicators of immigrant integration with the title “Settling In”. These documents also include indicators for host society attitudes towards immigrants.

As mentioned in the commentary, Objective 16 has great potential to enhance integration and create social cohesion as the actions target both, migrants and the receiving communities. In order to highlight and strengthen migrants’ contributions it will be necessary to develop more detailed indicators, to improve these indicators continuously and to make data available.


The first set of indicators is already well developed and well designed to show the progress made in the realisation of objective 16. Benchmarks for measuring the level of inclusion of migrants into the societies of these states and the contributions of migrants have to be expanded and designed to cover migrants’ and receiving societies’ perspectives. The development of indicators and collection of data with regard to migrants’ contributions and their visibility in the receiving societies will be essential for the realisation of Objective 16. As Objective 16 aims to create social inclusion but not assimilation, indicators should be developed which are sensitive with regard to a differentiation between integration and assimilation. Indicators should cover short, medium and long-term developments. As integration requires a multi-faceted approach, indicators have to mirror that approach.

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