This list comprises conventions and treaties that establish international obligations for the states that have agreed to be party to them, and declarations and sets of rules and principles approved in international forums.  The latter complement and introduce elements for the interpretation of international obligations.


          Some OAS member states have not signed and ratified all the instruments listed below.  The following list is an illustrative enumeration of international instruments and other reference documents.




          International Bill of Human Rights and General Human Rights Instruments


          Universal Instruments 

         Regional Instruments


        Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Minorities 

             Prevention of Discrimination 

            Rights of Women


            Universal Instruments 

             Regional Instrument 

             Rights of the Child 

            Rights of Older Persons 

            Rights of Persons with Disabilities


            Universal Instruments 

           Regional Instrument 

  • Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Person with Disabilities, 1999

          Human Rights and the Administration of Justice:  Protection of Persons Subjected to Detention or Imprisonment


            Universal Instruments 

          Regional Instruments 

          Freedom of Association 

  • Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87)

  • Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98)

  • Slavery, Servitude, Forced Labour and Similar Institutions and Practices

  • Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29)

  • Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No. 105)

           Rights of Migrants 

            Nationality, Statelessness, Asylum, and Refugees


            Universal Instruments 

              Declaration on the Human Rights of Individuals who are not Nationals of the Country in which They Live, 1985


              Regional Instrument 

  • Cartagena Declaration on Refugees, 1984

             Trafficking in Persons 

             Consular Relations 

  • Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963

             II.        OTHER REFERENCE DOCUMENTS:


             Other reference documents include the judgments of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which are applicable only to those states which have accepted the Court’s jurisdiction, as well as the advisory opinions of the Court and the recommendations and reports of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. 

  • Inter-American Court of Human Rights:  The Right to Information on Consular Assistance in the Framework of the Guarantees of the due Process of Law, Advisory Opinion OC-16/99 of October 1, 1999, Series A No. 16;

  • Inter-American Court of Human Rights:  Juridical Condition and Rights of the Undocumented Migrants, Advisory Opinion OC-18/03 of September 17, 2003, Series A No. 18.




           ●       Developments and migratory flows in the Americas


A new study on migratory flows done by the Pew Hispanic Center, an independent research center in the United States, found that the number of persons who migrated to the United States peaked in the year 2000, but has since tailed off.  The study finds that the number of authorized migrants who entered the United States was 647 thousand in 2000 and then dropped to 455 thousand in 2004.  The study also found that the number of persons who entered the United States irregularly totaled 662 thousand in 2000 and dropped to 562 by 2004.


          ●        Naturalized persons in the United States


United States authorities reported that by the end of 2004, the country had a total of 13.1 million naturalized citizens.  Thus, of the total number of foreign born persons residing in the United States legally, estimated at 34.2 million, some 38% are naturalized citizens.   The following countries account for the bulk of naturalized citizens in the United States:  Mexico (12%), India (7%), Philippines (6%), Vietnam and China (5%), South Korea (3%), the Dominican Republic (3%), Jamaica (2%), Iran (2%) and Cuba (2%).  Authorities also reported that of those who applied for naturalization in 2004, a total of 640,490 (84%) passed successfully.


         ●        Mexicans in the United States


According to figures from the PEW Hispanic Center, some 11.2 million Mexicans live in the United States.  This represents some 29% of the 36 million aliens living in the country.  According to the PEW Hispanic Center’s figures, 57% of those living in the United States, or almost 6 million, are undocumented.


         ●        Peruvians Abroad


The Peruvian Foreign Ministry made public a report that indicates that of the country’s 27 million people, 1.7 million live abroad.  The study uses figures from December 2004 and lists the countries where Peruvians are living (in descending order):  the United States (967,300), Argentina (135,119), Venezuela (119,305), Spain (117,548), Italy (86,500), Chile (85,290), Bolivia (69,758), Japan (63,052), Canada (21,241), Germany and France (13,000), Mexico (12,715), Australia (9,229) and Great Britain (8,000). Other destinations for Peruvians include Panama, Costa Rica, China, South Africa, Lebanon, Egypt, India, Morocco, Singapore, Malaysia and others.  As the study notes, one of the most striking features of Peruvian emigration is its enormous geographic spread.


          ●        Ecuadorians Abroad


A recent study cited by the Migration Policy Institute, a research center on United States immigration policy, indicates that around 12% of Ecuador’s population (almost 1.5 million people) emigrated abroad seeking better opportunities.  Almost one third is in Spain, while another third is in the United States, most in New York state.  Estimates are that Ecuadorian migrants send home around 2 billion dollars in remittances each year.   


          ●       Brazilian Emigration.


In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of Brazilians emigrating to the United States.  Many of these people fly to Mexico City and from there continue overland to the United States.  Just in the period between October 2004 and July 2005, 27 thousand Brazilians who entered the United States as undocumented aliens were apprehended and then deported by U.S. authorities.  The Brazilian government estimates that around 1.5 million of its citizens live in the United States and that half are undocumented.  Many –although fewer- have recently emigrated to places like England, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain.


           ●        Nicaraguan Emigration to El Salvador


According to a recent study by Caritas, a nongovernmental organization working on poverty-related issues, some 16 thousand Nicaraguan migrant workers live in El Salvador.  The report indicates that most are in the country as undocumented aliens.


           ●        Migration to Canada


According to figures supplied by the Canadian authorities, as of late 2004 immigrants from Central and South America and the Caribbean in Canada represented 9.2% of the total foreign-born population living in the country.  Some 2.7 of the aliens residing in Canada are United States citizens.  The greatest number of immigrants, some 46.6%, come from Asia, mainly India and China.  Only 17.8% of the aliens living in Canada are from Europe and Africa, while 19.7% are from the Middle East. 


           ●       Voting Abroad


By a wide majority, the Mexican Congress passed a law that will allow its citizens to cast their vote abroad.  The law, which was discussed for eight years by political parties and social groups from across the spectrum, will allow Mexicans to vote in the presidential elections (starting in 2006), but not in congressional and municipal elections.  People who want to vote may do so by mail after registering with the Instituto Federal Electoral [Federal Elections Institute] (IFE). 


Similarly, in August a new bill passed in Ecuador allowing Ecuadorian citizens living abroad to vote in the upcoming 2006 presidential elections.  


           ●        Immigration Agreements


           Chile and Peru eliminate the passport requirement


In July 2005 the governments of Chile and Peru signed an agreement eliminating the passport requirement for travel between the two countries.  Under this agreement, Chileans and Peruvians will only need their national identification document to enter each other’s countries.


            Brazilian-Bolivian Migrant Worker Agreement


The Government of Brazil entered into an agreement with Bolivia pledging to guarantee the labor rights of the nearly 100 thousand Bolivian workers who live in Brazil.  The agreement applies only to those workers who are in the country with their papers in order.


           Andean Passport


The immigration agreement among the countries of the Andean Community entered into force in January 2005.  Under that agreement, citizens of the five countries of the Andean Community –Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela- will be permitted to travel to any of these countries as a tourist without a visa.  Peru announced implementation of the common Andean passport.  Created in 2001, the common Andean passport follows a standard model containing minimum standard features as regards nomenclature and security features.  At the present time, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela are issuing the Andean passport.  Bolivia and Colombia have not yet introduced it.


             ●         Natural Disasters and Migration


             Migratory pressure triggered by hurricanes and floods


Hurricane season in 2005 was particularly violent and triggered strong migratory pressures.  Massive hurricanes like Katrina and Rita wrought havoc on the Gulf Coast of the United States, especially in New Orleans.  Hurricane Wilma, which struck the Caribbean coastlines of Mexico, Belize and Honduras, caused severe damage in Cancún, Mexico’s principal tourism hub, and along the coast of Honduras and Belize.  Tropical storms Beta and Gamma inflicted serious damage in Honduras and the Colombian islands of San Andrés and Providencia.  Tropical storm Stan inflicted terrible damage in the form of mudslides and flooding in the Mexican port of Veracruz, and in Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Honduras. These hurricanes and storms triggered migratory pressures.  The massive damage done to the infrastructure and production, especially in sectors like agriculture, business and tourism, affected the living conditions and jobs of tens of thousands of people, forcing them to move in search of better prospects.  Mexican authorities contend that in the wake of the flooding, there was a strong surge in the number of undocumented persons who entered Mexico.  Similarly, in the United States there was a massive exodus of migrant workers, who left the hardest hit states like Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi to head for other states of the Union.


            ●         Remittances


            Global remittances


A recent World Bank study found that, worldwide, remittances sent by the 200 million people living outside their countries of origin totaled 225 billion in 2005.


            Remittances in the Americas


The Banco de México reported that during the first half of 2005, remittances from Mexicans abroad rose to 9.279 billion, a 17% increase over the same period in 2004.  In 2004, remittances from Mexicans hit a record, totaling 15.178 billion. 


The Banco Central del Ecuador, for its part, reported that the remittances that Ecuadorian nationals abroad repatriated totaled 416 million dollars in 2005.


An IDB study found that Bolivia received close to 860 million in remittances in 2005.