The ICRMW consists of nine parts: scope and definitions; non-discrimination with respect to rights; human rights of all migrant workers (Part III, which also includes the rights of migrants in an irregular or undocumented situation); other rights of migrants who are documented or in a regular situation; provisions applicable to particular categories of migrants; the promotion of sound, equitable, humane and lawful conditions in connection with international migration; application of the Convention; general provisions; and final provisions. It is considered the most comprehensive international treaty covering the rights of migrant workers beyond the realm of work, inspired by existing legally binding agreements, United Nations human rights studies, the conclusions and recommendations of meetings of experts and debates and resolutions on the migrant worker question in United Nations bodies over two decades.
The main contributions of the Convention to existing international human rights instruments are as follows:
- Bridges a gap in protection due to the situation of vulnerability in which migrant workers and members of their families frequently find themselves, owing, among other things, to their absence from their State of origin and to the difficulties they may encounter arising from their presence in the State of employment.
- Views migrant workers as more than labourers or mere economic entities.
- Provides, for the first time, an international definition of migrant workers, and categories of migrant workers.
- Guarantees minimum universal human rights standards for all migrant workers, both documented and undocumented.
- Extends further rights to regular migrant workers and members of their families, notably in the equality of treatment with nationals of States and in employment in a number of legal, political, economic, social and cultural areas.