This article discusses the roots of the current governance system of global migration in relation to labor mobility from a critical policy and historical perspectives, by assessing the current state of global migration governance and key protection gaps regarding migrant workers, to then consider future avenues for research and advocacy to forward migrants’ human and labor rights. In the authors’ analysis of global migration governance, they center the historic and contemporary role of the International Labor Organization, whose social justice mandate and body of international labor standards extend to migrant and nonmigrant workers, and its shifting position within the international system. The authors argue that shifting geopolitical concerns and competing institutional mandates within the international system have been obstacles to advancing a rights-based approach to the global regulation of labor migration. Nevertheless, they find that the current institutional and political environment may provide opportunities for enhanced cooperation and action at the global level to empower migrant workers.

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