The ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour: a space for civil society in migration governance at the regional level?
Asia Pacific Viewpoint 59 (1): 107–18.
Author: Stefan Rother. 2018. 

The aim of this article is to discuss and substantiate new spaces for the political participation of migrant civil society at the regional level in Southeast Asia through the lens of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Forum on Migrant Labour (AFML). The AFML process is shaped by the International Labour Organisation and mirrors its tripartite format, essentially bringing together governments, employers’ and workers’ organisations. Crucially, migrant support and self‐organisations also have access, even if somewhat restricted, to regularly held deliberations. In light of the ASEAN consensus on migration that was agreed upon at the end of 2017, the article situates the AFML within the ongoing process of migration governance in the region and focusses especially on the role of migrant civil society as an important stakeholder. Based on the specific experience of civil society organisations (CSOs) from Malaysia, the article discusses which spaces the forum provides for civil society actors and how the latter use them for their advocacy. The major argument of the article is that the development of migration policies at the regional level can benefit from the inclusion of migrant civil society in the process. The governance of migrants could thus be complemented by governance for and by migrants.

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