Reviewing the Mar del Pata Plan of Action forged at the Fourth Summit of the Americas in Argentina last year (Nov. 2005) we find the two footnotes most instructive. In both cases, the USA delegation refuses to honor the precedence of international rights for workers and migrant workers.
For example, here is paragraph 18 as agreed to by the Summit of the Americas, emphasis added:
18. To adopt measures to encourage the full and effective exercise of the rights of all workers, including migrant workers, as well as application of core labor standards, such as those contained in the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its follow-up, adopted in 1998. Explore ways for the ILO to provide technical advisory services to member states to help them accomplish that objective.
In the following footnote to paragraph 18, the USA prefers the authority of state law to “core labor standards” of the ILO. Instead of “full and effective exercise” of international rights, the USA prefers to “promote respect”:
Paragraph 18: The United States reserves on this paragraph and prefers instead the following text: “Protect and promote the rights of all workers, including migrant workers in accordance with the legal framework of each country, and applicable international law, and promote respect for the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its follow-up. Explore ways for the ILO to provide technical advisory services to Member States to help them accomplish that objective.”
And here is the summit’s paragraph on migrant workers with emphasis added:
To strengthen constructive dialogue on international migration, with a view to full recognition of human rights of migrant workers, reduce their vulnerable conditions at work, as well as advocate effective compliance of the principle of equality and non-discrimination at work in accordance with international instruments in this area and, thereby, ensure that migration is an orderly process that benefits all parties and boosts productivity at the global level.
Compare this to the second and last footnote attached to the summit plan by the USA:
Paragraph 20: The United States notes that this language was discussed in connection with the declaration and consensus was achieved, including the United States, on the basis of the following language: “increase Inter-American cooperation and dialogue to reduce and discourage undocumented migration as well as to promote migration processes in accordance with the legal system of each state and applicable international human rights law.”
Activists from the USA who would argue for the precedence of international rights for border affairs, workers, and migrant workers may argue that they have the rest of the Americas on their side. In this case, where do real Americans stand?