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Analysis of bilateral and multilateral social security agreements as they relate to pensions

Preface

The situation of millions of migrants in the Americas is an ongoing concern for the region. Migrants should enjoy dignified living conditions, should be able to find decent and productive work, their children should have access to education, and their rights should be protected. At the end of their life, they should also benefit from social protection schemes and, above all, receive a pension.

This has been the spirit behind the signing of so many bilateral, sub-regional and multilateral agreements on social security: to acknowledge and correct the realities of many migrant worker who upon reaching the end of their working lives are not eligible to receive a pension, despite having contributed to social security throughout their lives, because they do not meet the requirements in any of the countries where they have made contributions.

This spirit also arose in the discussions of the XVIII Inter American Conference of Ministers of Labor (IACML) of the Organization of the American States (OAS), held in Medellin, Colombia, in 2013, where the labor authorities mandated the OAS to conduct a study on the operation of social security agreements in the region. This study, which we are presenting not only provides greater clarity on the functioning of the social security agreements that exist in the region but also includes recommendations to eventually develop a hemispheric mechanism, if Member States decide to do so.

This study presents an updated picture of the 83 existing agreements in the Americas. It not only explores factors that affect their implementation, such as the high levels of informality; low social security coverage; the level of migration between different countries; and the existence of different types of pension systems, but also provides a set of lessons and recommendations. It shows what has been widely acknowledged by different experts: the existing agreements have not reached their full potential. However, this does not mean that they are not key instruments for the region.

As the Third Annual Report of the Continuous Reporting System on International Migration in the Americas (SICREMI), published in 2015, has shown, migration in the region continues to increase.

According to the latest statistics, intra-regional migration in the Latin American and Caribbean countries has increased 46%. This increase in migration flows highlights the need to propose solutions to safeguard the rights of thousands of working men and women who move throughout the region crossing national borders in search of a better life for themselves and their families. Undoubtedly, one of these solutions is to make sure that they receive a pension.

LUIS ALMAGRO, Secretary General. Organization of the American States

JUAN LOZANO, Secretary General. Inter-American Conference on Social Security

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