Obscurity and Nonbindingness in the Regulation of Labor Migration
Labor migration is often regulated internationally through bilateral treaties signed between states, determining the conditions under which migrants from one state (or both) may travel to the other state and reside there in order to work. These instruments are sometimes designated as memoranda of understanding and regarded as nonbinding agreements. Many remain unpublished and undisclosed. This Article assesses these design choices critically. It considers the interaction between bilateralism, obscurity and nonbindingness. It evaluates and rejects possible justifications for obscurity and nonbindingness. Finally, it argues that these design choices should be resisted. Since bilateral labor agreements do not regulate strictly the bilateral relationship between two states, but rather create rights and obligations for various third-party individuals, they should be required to meet a rule of law requirement of transparency.