Open Borders? Comparative Study of the Potential Impact of the ASEAN Economic Community on Child Migration and Trafficking



The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) was established in 2015 to transform ASEAN into “a region with free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labour, and freer flow of capital.” Many have anticipated that the launch of the AEC would promote safer migration within the region by enabling workers to find jobs and cross borders through legal channels, thereby reducing exploitative practices in the workplace, as well as along migration routes. Observers have cautioned, however, that free movement of labor must be accompanied by proper protections to prevent such exploitation.

This comparative study of the potential impact of the ASEAN Economic Community on child migration and trafficking explores the potential implications of a ‘freed’ labor movement for children in the region, as children below the age of 18 are among those who migrate, and constitute a population that is particularly vulnerable to protection risks during the migration process.

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