In the recent past, bilateral labour agreements and memoranda of understanding on labour migration have gained prominence as tools facilitating the cross-border movement of workers.

While these instruments can play an important role in ensuring that the labour rights of migrant workers are protected at all stages of the migration process, in practice they exhibit a number of shortcomings regarding their design, content, monitoring, implementation and impact.

In response to these challenges and opportunities, the International Training Centre of the ILO (Turin Campus, Italy) organized the first edition of its training course on Negotiating Bilateral Labour Agreements, with a view to increasing the potential of BLAs to improve governance of labour migration, promote and protect the rights of migrant workers, and enhancing migration and development linkages. The overall objective of the course was to reinforce the negotiation skills and techniques of officials who may work in the adoption and follow up of bilateral and/or multilateral agreements.

The course was attended by 24 participants originating from 10 different countries, including a significant representation of governments officials and representatives of employers and workers’ organizations from North Africa (specifically from Morocco, Tunisia and Mauritania). Throughout the course, which contributed to fostering an interregional South-South dialogue on migration governance, participants from these regions were invited to reflect on the role of bilateral agreements as a tool which can support not only a positive experience for workers abroad, but also a successful social and professional reintegration upon migrant workers’ eventual return to their home countries.