The UN Will Use Blockchain to Help Migrant Workers in Hong Kong

The UN Will Use Blockchain to Help Migrant Workers in Hong Kong

Diginex, a blockchain financial services and technology company, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – the United Nations Migration Agency – today announced the launch of a blockchain-based tool developed to prevent the exploitation of migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong SAR, China.

The tool called IRIS-SAFER, which is an acronym for the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS)- Self-Assessment for Ethical Recruitment (SAFER), is initially being designed for use by representatives from the approximately 1,500 Hong Kong-based migrant domestic worker recruitment agencies as well as select associated agencies in worker-sending countries.

Agencies invited to use the tool – to assess their current level of adherence to global ethical recruitment principles as set forth by the IRIS Standard – will do so as a part of their participation in broader training on ethical recruitment.

The use of blockchain technology – essentially a set of immutable, secure, data records – will strengthen data management and enforce data integrity, which allows for a higher level of transparency and visibility.

There are almost 390,000 migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong1, nearly 1 in 10 of all workers in the city. Almost all (98%) of these domestic workers are women. According to a recent survey2, more than half (56%) of domestic migrant workers were charged illegal fees by recruitment agencies.

Mr. Mark Blick, Head of Government Solutions at Diginex, said: “We are delighted to partner with the IOM on this impactful project. Using the UN’s IRIS standards as the benchmark for reputable agencies, we are confident that the tool can help to strike out these unethical practises. In Hong Kong, foreign domestic workers are some of the most economically vulnerable people in our society and pay approximately HK$700,000,000 each year in placement/recruitment fees. Being headquartered in Hong Kong, we believe it is vital to support the communities in which we operate, so this partnership and project is close to our hearts.”

As the leading inter-governmental organisation on migration, the IOM is focused on searching for practical solutions and tools that assist industry associations, governments, migrants and their communities with migration-related issues.

“Ethical recruitment practices are essential to improve protection of workers, employers and recruitment intermediaries,” added Mr. Giuseppe Crocetti, Chief of Mission, IOM China.

“We are excited to have identified an opportunity by which IOM can support migrant worker recruitment agencies to differentiate themselves as good actors. Through use of IRIS-SAFER, agencies will first learn what are global ethical recruitment standards, then be able to demonstrate their progress and, ultimately, prove their commitment. With this project, we are drawing from IOM’s global work, through the IRIS initiative, and tailoring it to the specific experience of recruiting migrant domestic workers to Hong Kong SAR, China to ensure that in future no migrant domestic worker is made vulnerable to exploitation due to unethical recruitment.”

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