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No legal or generic definition exists for the term “migrant” in international law, except for specific categories such as “migrant workers” which is defined in the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and the International Labor Organisation (Conventions n° 97 and143). However, reference is frequently made to an operational definition, in accordance with which, the following categories of persons are considered to be “migrants”: a) any individuals who are outside of the territory or state in which they hold nationality or citizenship, but who do not receive legal protection from this state, and are living within the territory of another state; b) persons who are not entitled to any general judicial regime inherent to the categories of refugee, permanent resident, naturalized citizen, or any other status granted by the host state; c) persons who are not entitled to any general legal protection of their fundamental rights by virtue of diplomatic agreement, visa, or other agreement. The advantage to this definition is that it does not bear any bias in terms of the motivations that influenced the migrant to leave his own country. The categories therefore include persons who have fled from their state of origin, especially for reasons of political persecution, conflict or economic difficulty as well as persons who have left their country by choice or personal convenience.

Source: ICPC International Report 2010, pp. 185

added by
Burkhard Hasenpusch
German Congress on Crime Prevention (GCOCP)

french: Migrant

spanish: inmigrante