Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Citizenship and Human Rights of Migrant Workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries

  • M. V. Bijulal


Independent investigations by human rights organizations and public interest reports through investigative journalism have exposed many areas of urgent human rights concerns for the workers. Governments across South and South East Asia have responded to such precarious situations in varying degrees. Some interventions have resulted in immediate strategies for reinstating confidence and guarantee of rights and dignity to the workforce. In some Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, official sources have acknowledged the highly deplorable state of life of the workers and have even opined that the unrest among workers is an expression of their angst. Governmental response to crises has varied across the GCC; from minimal regulation measures, to radical intervention for protection of rights of the workers. However, in the last decade, there are indications of a common GCC policy on migrant labour. Recent press reports also indicated fresh diplomatic moves in this direction.


  1. Amjad, R. (Ed.). (1989). To the Gulf and Back: Studies on the economic impact of Asian labour migration. International Labour Organisation, Asian Employment Programme: New Delhi/Geneva.Google Scholar
  2. Ayesha, N. (2008). Jeevithathinte Arangu. Kottayam: Current Books.Google Scholar
  3. Bales, K. (1999). Disposable people: New slavery in the global economy. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bales, K. (2005). Understanding global slavery a reader. Berkeley: University of California Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Basok, T. (2009). Counter-hegemonic human rights discourses and migrant rights activism in the US and Canada, International Journal of Comparative Sociology (pp. 183–205). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  6. Benhabib, S. (2007). Twilight of sovereignty or the emergence of cosmopolitan norms? Rethinking citizenship in volatile times. Citizenship Studies, 11(1), 19–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Betts, A. (2011). Global migration governance. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bijulal, M. V. (2012). Struggle as political communication: Migrant lifeworlds and human rights questions in the GCC countries’. South Asian Journal of Diplomacy, 3(1), School of International relations, Kottayam.Google Scholar
  9. Chatterjee, P. (2004). Politics of the governed reflections on popular politics in most part of the world. New York: Colombia University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Ditto, M. I. (2008). GCC Labour Migration Governance, United Nations expert group meeting on, international migration and development in asia and the pacific, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social affairs, Bangkok, Thailand.Google Scholar
  11. Human Rights Watch. (2004). Saudi Arabia: Bad dreams exploitation and abuse of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia. Human Rights Watch, 165(E).Google Scholar
  12. IANS. (2008, September 10). Unified Gulf Plan needed to tackle labour issues. IANS.Google Scholar
  13. ILO (International Labor Organization). (2002, April 18). Boost for workers’ rights in Saudi Arabia. Press Release. ILO/02/17. Accessed on 4 April 2013.
  14. International Migration Report. (2002). United Nations. Geneva: Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division.Google Scholar
  15. International Organization for Migration (IOM). (2003). World migration report 2003: Labour migration: Trends, challenges and policy responses in countries of origin. Geneva: International Organization for Migration Press.Google Scholar
  16. Kapiszewski, A. (2006, May 15–17). Arab versus Asian migrant workers in the GCC countries’. Paper presented at United Nations expert group meeting on international migration and development in the Arab region, Beirut. Accessed on 12 Dec 2012.
  17. Karayil, S. B. (2007). Does migration matter in trade? A study of India’s exports to the GCC countries. South Asia Economic Journal, 8(1), 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Mentz, G. (2009). The political economy managed migration non-state actors, Europeanization, and the politics of designing migration policies. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Ong, A. (2006). Neoliberalism as exception: Mutations in sovereignty and citizenship. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Panda, R. (2009). Migration remittances: The emerging scenario. India Quarterly, 65(2), 167–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Prakash, B. A. (1998). Gulf migration and its economic impacts: The Kerala experience. Economic and Political Weekly, 33(50), 3157–3159.Google Scholar
  22. Ratha, D., & Xu, Z. (2008). Migration and remittances factbook. Washington, DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  23. Singh, B. (2009). Structural shifts in the current account of India’s balance of payments. Margin: The Journal of Applied Economic Research, 3, 133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Sonmez, S., Apostolopoulos, Y., Tran, D., & Rentrope, S. (2011). Human rights and health disparities for migrant workers in the UAE. Health and Human Rights: An International Journal, North America, 13(7), 12. Accessed on 21 May 2013.Google Scholar
  25. The Sydney Herald. (2011, January 3). Workers strike in UAE after labour riot.. Accessed on Apr 4 2013.
  26. Tilly, C. (2007). Trust networks in transnational migration. Sociological Forum, 22(1, March), 3–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Varghese, V. J. (2011). ‘Outside and inside the nation:: Narratives and the making of a productive citizen in Kerala. In S. I. Rajan (Ed.), Migration, identity and conflict, India migration report. New Delhi: Rutledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. V. Bijulal
    • 1
  1. 1.School of International Relations and PoliticsMahatma Gandhi UniversityKottayamIndia

Personalised recommendations