Yury Fedotov

Director General/Executive Director

UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants roundtable VI

New York, 19 September 2016


Distinguished participants,

In my remarks at the Summit opening this morning, I highlighted the need to protect refugees and migrants from violence, abuse and exploitation, and strengthen action against human trafficking and migrant smuggling as part of comprehensive, human-rights based responses to the crises we face.

Allow me to elaborate on a few ideas for how we can better meet these challenges for the future.

First and foremost, States need to shift their focus and allocation of resources away from punitive measures that affect migrants, to combating the organized crime that perpetuates migrant smuggling and human trafficking.

Most countries have pledged to fulfil their obligations under the Palermo Convention and Protocols, but implementation continues to fall far too short of practical commitment.

Second, we need more strategic responses, targeting the upstream organized criminal networks who continue to endanger the lives of smuggled migrants and exploit trafficking victims; and

Third, our approach must be more sensitive, recognizing that trafficking victims and irregular migrants deserve protection, and at the same time can support investigations to bring perpetrators to account;

To achieve these objectives, we have to be more focused, sustained and better resourced.

Shallow, time-limited interventions that fail to go after the real criminals risk punishing victims of crime while leaving transnational networks in place to threaten more lives and cause more harm.

Such responses take time, money and genuine commitment to pursuing the cause of justice.

They take thousands of police hours, tracking leads on the ground; police and prosecutors pursuing parallel, coordinated responses that assist and protect victims while going after perpetrators; savvy investigators trained to follow the money, online and off, to fight organized crime through joint investigations, extradition and witness protection; agencies sharing intelligence and coordinating operations within and across borders; and lawmakers committed to leaving no gaps for criminals to exploit.

UNODC is committed to working with you and all our partners to put the commitments agreed at this summit into action.

Thank you.