Fatima ShahBaz ‘21 International Labor Organization

Fatima ShahBaz ‘21
International Labor Organization


Fatima Shahbaz

Year and Field of Study: I am a third-year at Harvard College pursuing a joint degree in Government and South Asian Studies, with a secondary in Economics.
MUN Interest and Background: I was born in Karachi, Pakistan, but grew up a few minutes outside of Washington D.C in Tysons, Virginia, inspiring a lifelong love of politics and foreign affairs. After competing for six years throughout middle and high school, this is my second WorldMUN and I couldn't be more excited to meet all of you!
Other Activities at Harvard: Outside of WorldMUN, I am the president of the Harvard South Asian Association, help organize Harvard's high school Model UN conference, and volunteer as a weekly civics teacher. In addition to that, I love spending time with my friends, baking, and could strike up a conversation about almost anything!

Topic: Migrant Workers

With increasing ease of transportation and globalization, the world is seeing more migrant laborers today than ever before. As of now, there are approximately 164 million migrant laborers, a 9% increase from 2013, with some making up nearly 18.5 percent of the workforce in high-income countries. Migrant workers are imperative to the economies of both their host and home countries, with millions each year sent back home in the form of remittances. Unfortunately, despite their value, migrant workers are often times extremely vulnerable to exploitation and abuse in their host countries and offered minimal legal or social protections. Many migrant laborers face predatory subcontracting schemes, unsafe work practices, and have their legal documents confiscated upon arrival, leaving them hostage to the goodwill of their employers. Others are physically abused and have their wages withheld, trapping them in cycles of inescapable debt. In the International Labor Organization at WorldMUN 2020, delegates will be forced to grapple with finding a common ground between allowing the free movement of labor in and out of a country, individual countries’ labor laws, and global shared standards for workers’ welfare and justice. The situation that migrant workers face is one that is especially precarious and difficult to address, considering the involvement of nefarious “middle-men” in the recruitment process that many host governments remain unaware of and do little to counteract their predatory debt measures. Moreover, delegates must grapple with the difficulty of enforcing both the creation and enforcement of standards for migrant workers that are respected by both home and host countries.