Ensuring Human Rights in the Business Sector is a focus of the UNODC and USAID webinar in Turkmenistan

The challenge of protecting human rights in the private sector is becoming more urgent due to the current global COVID-19 pandemic, which puts the most vulnerable population under the threat of human trafficking. According to the UNODC Global Trafficking in Persons Report 2020, women account for 55% of all victims, children are a third, and men are a fifth part of all identified victims. International experience shows that companies are the key stakeholders, affecting significantly the scope of forced and child labour, structural causes of forced exploitation and its involvement in global supply chains. Some offenses make the employees more vulnerable to labor exploitation, thereby increasing the spread of human trafficking around the world.


In order to ensure human compliance and prevent human trafficking UNODC, in partnership with the Office of the Ombudsman and the USAID funded "Safe Migration in Central Asia Programme", held a webinar for more than 30 representatives of government agencies and private businesses to share best practices, discuss the role of the national human rights institutions (business ombudsman mechanism) in this process, and develop a joint action plan.

The webinar was aimed at discussing strategies, issues and lessons learned from international organizations on the prevention of labor and human trafficking in the private sector. Seminar participants familiarized themselves with various Human Rights standards to combat trafficking in persons, including the United Nations guiding principles on business and human rights.

According to Mrs. Yazdursun Gurbannazarova, the Ombudsman of Turkmenistan, over 4 years of the Apparatus of Ombudsman operation, there have been a large number of requests from individuals on cases related to their rights violations. Therefore, Ombudsman made a  recommendation to the Government to study the experience of independent institutions that protect the rights of individuals and legal entities engaged in private business and the rights of citizens who are in legal relations with them, as well as the feasibility of creating such structures in Turkmenistan. “Consequently, today's event has a great value for the Ombudsman's Office, since the discussion of this issue is one of the key areas aimed at protection of human and civil rights and freedoms", outlined Ms. Gurbannazarova.


“Today you will have the opportunity to discuss a range of international strategies, challenges and lessons learned for human rights in the private sector and the global supply chain. You will hear about the role of national human rights institutions in ensuring access to remedies. And you will learn about ways to prevent human rights abuses in the private business sector”, said Mr. Matthew S. Klimow, US Ambassador to Turkmenistan. He expressed gratitude to the Government of Turkmenistan and international organizations for their work towards achieving goal 8 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals "Promoting progressive, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all".


“Global poverty is expected to rise for the first time in 10 years since the pandemic. Of course, unemployment and poor financial situation of people increase the risk of becoming a victim of human trafficking. And here the role of the business sector and entrepreneurs cannot be overestimated,” said Mr. Koen Marquering, UNODC International Criminal Justice Programme Manager in Central Asia. “While the problem of human trafficking remains very serious globally, international community as part of implementation of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime has been able to launch a new era of international cooperation over the past 20 years and have demonstrated that organized crime groups can be defeated through painstaking investigations, cross-border cooperation, and uncompromising honesty and integrity,” he concluded.


Ms. Eleanor Valentine, USAID “Safe Migration in Central Asia Project” Manager at Winrock International believes that this workshop is important and timely for Turkmenistan. She stressed that the Government has ratified a number of international conventions that contribute to improving the observance of workers' rights, and also emphasized that in April 2021, the Government in Turkmenistan approved a new Human Rights Action Plan for the period 2021-2025, which Turkmenistan adopted the ILO #122 Employment Policy Convention.

“In recent years, more and more attention has been paid to the problem of human trafficking and exploitation of labour in global supply chains. Businesses are faced with a growing proliferation of consumers, the media, civil society, ambassadors and governments to behave ethically. With increased employee mobility and complex supply chains, there is a growing need for all parties involved to know their rights and responsibilities and to have effective remedies against violations.”

The UNODC is the guardian of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, including its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. During the period of cooperation with the Government of Turkmenistan, UNODC has facilitated the adoption of national strategies and policies to combat trafficking in persons in Turkmenistan; was involved in conducting training for law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and the judiciary on the investigation and prosecution of cases of trafficking in persons. UNODC developed a manual for investigators, prosecutors and judges; educational films in the Turkmen language were released.

Ms. Reda Sirgediene, UNODC Regional Adviser on Trafficking in Persons, spoke to the audience about international best practice in preventing human trafficking in the private sector. Also, participants of the webinar learned about non-governmental mechanisms for resolving complaints to prevent negative impact on human rights and got acquainted with Standards and Tools of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for Responsible Business Conduct and its Areas of Activity. Specially invited guest Ms. Lamia Khudoyarova, Chief Inspector for International Relations, Office of the Commissioner under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan for the protection of the rights and legitimate interests of business entities, shared the work carried out by the institution of the Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of Entrepreneurs in Uzbekistan.

The webinar was conducted in partnership with USAID “Safe Migration in Central Asia Project” as part of the UNODC Programme on Countering Human Trafficking in Turkmenistan with financial support from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the US Department of State.

 Article in Russian language 


For more information contact Vasilina Brazhko (Ms.).

Public Relations and Mass Media Specialist

UNODC in Central Asia

+996 775 987817 WhatsApp and Telegram or

by e-mail: vasilina.brazhko [at] un.org