Side Event to the Working Group on Trafficking in Persons:

UNODC Technical Assistance Briefing

Thursday 28 January 2010, Vienna, Austria

In the margins of the Working Group on Trafficking in Persons, UNODC hosted a side event to brief delegates on the technical assistance UNODC offers to States parties in combating human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

The panel of UNODC experts was chaired by Ms. Doris Buddenburg, Senior Manager of AHTMSU/UN.GIFT, and was comprised of Ms. Riikka Puttonen, Officer in Charge of UNODC's Anti-Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Unit (AHTMSU), Ms. Silke Albert, Crime Prevention Expert with AHTMSU, Ms. Julie Kvammen, Associate Expert at UNODC Regional Office for Middle East and North Africa, Ms. Olga Zudova, Senior Legal Adviser at UNODC Central Asia Regional Office, Mr. Alun Jones, Chief of Advocacy,  and Mr. Felipe De La Torre, Crime Prevention Expert on Trafficking in Persons in the UNODC Mexico and Central America Regional Office.

From Left to Right: Mr. Alun Jones, Ms. Silke Albert, Mr Felipe De La Torre, Ms. Doris Buddenburg, Ms. Julie Kvammen, Ms. Olga Zudova and Ms. Riikka Puttonen

Ms. Buddenburg introduced the side event and its purpose, to provide an overview to delegates of the technical assistance work that UNODC does around the world assist Member States to prevent and combat trafficking in persons. Watch Ms. Buddenburg's presentation here.

To provide the context for explaining UNODC's work, Ms. Riikka Puttonen shared Miguel's story to illustrate the multi-disciplinary nature of anti-human trafficking efforts. Miguel, she said, wanted to work in a richer country because his young son had cancer and he could not afford medication on the salary he made in his home country. Not being able to afford to travel, Miguel accepted an offer for a ride on the condition that be pay the fee back later. He found himself in a worse situation, in bonded labour at an orange farm, where every day he was threatened with and occasionally subject to violence.  One day, an NGO visited the orange farm. Though Miguel didn't feel safe to answer their questions, he took their contact details. Later he was able to call them and after speaking to them, began to trust them enough to share his story. A rescue was arranged and Miguel was saved.

Ms. Puttonen explained the role that UNODC plays in the holistic approach needed to help Miguel and others like him. Since the 1990s, UNODC has been providing technical assistance in the field of strengthening the criminal justice response to human trafficking and migrant smuggling. In 2010, UNODC continues to carry out this work, to prevent and combat these crimes in more than 80 countries in Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. These programmes and projects are tailor-made to the specific needs of the particular country and / or region and are implemented at national, regional and global levels.

Ms. Puttonen explained that UNODC focuses its two global programmes on seven areas of work; criminal justice system response, legislative assistance, strategic planning and policy development, data collection and research, victim protection and support, prevention and awareness raising, and international cooperation. Watch Ms. Puttonen's presentation here.

Ms. Silke Albert discussed victim protection and support, for which UNODC promotes NGO and law enforcement cooperation for the benefit of both victims and the criminal justice response to human trafficking and migrant smuggling. Ms. Albert offered the example of model Memorandum of Understanding between law enforcement and NGOs, enabling the latter to provide victims identified with better access to justice and enabling the former to take advantage of victims being empowered to participate in the criminal justice process. Ms. Albert further mentioned that preventing and tackling cases such as Miguel's, also requires strategic planning and policy development. In this regard she referred to the International Framework for Action as one example of a  technical assistance tool that is to support Member States. She also highlighted that the tool is the result of extensive inter-agency cooperation and collaboration.

Ms. Julie Kvammen highlighted UNODC's research and data collection work to ensure that responses to trafficking in persons are knowledge-based. As examples of this, Ms. Kvammen indicated the development of indicators and standards, and capacity building of relevant authorities to analyse data on human trafficking; examples she pointed to included the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons developed under the framework of UN.GIFT and the UNODC Global Patterns report prior to this. Ms. Kvammen gave examples of work done in Egypt to increase knowledge about trafficking in persons, highlighting a national study currently being undertaken to establish strategic needs and enhance the knowledge base on the characteristics of trafficking in persons in Egypt. the national study is jointly supported by UNODC, IOM, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNIFEM, ILO and UNDP who signed a MoU in 2009 agreeing to cost-share and support the national study for the purpose of determining the characteristics, extent and geographical distribution of trafficking in persons in Egypt.

In relations to the topic of legislative assistance, Ms. Kvammen pointed to the fact that Egypt has recently submitted a new draft comprehensive law trafficking in persons to the Parliament for adoption. The work undertaken by UNODC in partnership with Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs includes having provided the law drafting committee with the UNODC Model Law on Trafficking in Persons. Further, preparations are underway to conduct a workshop for selected Parliamentarians in February 2010. The purpose of the training workshop is to enhance the awareness of the parliamentarians on the crime of trafficking in persons. In the context of Miguel's story, Ms. Kvammen noted that once he dares to come forward it is necessary that he finds a comprehensive legislative framework and system that supports and recognizes him as a victim of trafficking entitled to protection and support. Watch Ms. Kvammen's presentation here.

Ms. Olga Zudova spoke about the group of criminals who put Miguel in the exploitative situation and stressed the importance of bringing justice to all members of criminal groups and the essentiality of international cooperation in doing so. Ms. Zudova offered the Central Asian example of law enforcement and judicial cooperation among source, transit and destination countries to bring law enforcers together so they can share their experiences and improve their cooperation. The issues encountered in Central Asia - and many other parts of the world - include disparate approaches to the criminalization of human trafficking, lack of knowledge or access to relevant laws of other countries which are often not available in more than one language, lack of law enforcement capacity, and lack of formal cooperation mechanisms. The solutions presented by UNODC to such problems include harmonization of domestic law in compliance with the trafficking protocol, assistance with translation of relevant trafficking laws and distribution of them, tailored training courses to address capacity gaps, and sharing good practices and mechanisms to strengthen cooperation. Watch Ms Zudova's presentation here.

Blue Heart

Mr. Alun Jones introduced the Blue Heart Campaign which aims to support the prevention of trafficking in persons. The Blue Heart aims to raise awareness of the issue of human trafficking and equip the public to respond to it. The blue heart represents the sadness of those who are trafficked, the cold heartedness of those who buy and sell human beings and the global commitment to stop this. In the context of Miguel, the Blue Heart Campaign can make a person on the street who sees Miguel aware that he may be a victim of trafficking. Mr. Alun Jones stated that Mexico has adopted a National Blue Heart Campaign against trafficking in persons. Watch Mr. Jones' presentation here.

BH girl

Mr. Felipe De La Torre presented UNODC's partnership with the goverment of Mexico to make the preventative power of the Blue Heart campaign a practical reality. Mexico - as a country of origin, transit and destination - has proposed a package of efforts around raising awareness in collaboration with UNODC and several other committed partners from all sectors of government, public and private spheres. Mexico is the first country in the world to adopt a global Blue Heart campaign with this multi-institutional approach to raise awareness of millions of people and hold participatory events to gain greater momentum for the initiative and the messages behind it. Watch Mr De La Torre's presentation here.


The UNODC team presenting the various aspects of UNODC's technical assistance response, highlighted that this multi-faceted but coordinated response aims to ensure that other people do not find themselves in Miguel's situation, or that if they do,  they receive the assistance, support and justice they need.


To read more about the work of UNODC in combating human trafficking:

UNODC's Anti-Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Unit

The Blue Heart Campaign

The United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT)

UN.GIFT Joint Programmes on trafficking in persons

Learn more about UNODC Partnership Opportunities

For more information about the Global Programme against Trafficking in Persons and the Global Programme against Smuggling of Migrants, contact us.