UNODC and OSCE Academy Partner to Teach the Future Policy Makers in Central Asia Online on Migration and Human Trafficking

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recently teamed up with the Academy of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to support the Academy’s Course on Migration and Human Trafficking, which is taught within the framework of its Master’s Program on Politics and Security for young people from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Educating future leaders of Central Asia is one of the key objectives of the OSCE Academy in Bishkek. As a regional centre for post-graduate education, capacity building, research and regional dialogue the Academy provides a regional and international public forum for professionals and students in the fields of international relations, comprehensive security, democratization, the rule of law and human rights.

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Academy offered this year’s course on Migration and Human Trafficking online. UNODC's Education for Justice (E4J) University Module Series on Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants provided a tool to make this shift happen. 

The Course Instructor, Dr. Daniel Leith from the University of Wisconsin, used the UNODC modules, which provide suggestions for in-class exercises, student assessments, slides, and other teaching tools that lecturers can adapt and incorporate in their existing university courses and program, to craft 5 two-hour online teaching sessions for the more than 20 participating students during the week of June 15-19, 2020.

The one-week course also featured various guest speakers who spoke about their experience in the field of human trafficking to help the students understand the main issues around the topic. The guest speakers generated the students’ interest, questions and discussions on various issues of human trafficking including prevention, protection and prosecution.  Ms. Raushan Bolotalieva, UNODC National Programme Coordinator, presented UNODC’s global reports on trafficking in persons (TIP) and smuggling of migrants. Mr. Micah Savidge, Director of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) in Bishkek, joined one of the sessions to speak about the U.S. TIP Report, an annual report that highlights progress and setbacks in addressing human trafficking across the globe. Mr. Meder Dastanbekov, Country Coordinator of Winrock International in Kyrgyzstan provided information on Safe Migration Project implemented in Kyrgyzstan and on the role of civil society organizations. 

Another guest speaker was Ms. Rahel Gershuni, an international anti-human trafficking expert, who served as Israel's National Anti-Trafficking Coordinator and worked in UNODC's Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section (HTMSS) in Vienna. She presented the UNODC Case Digest on Evidential Issues in TIP cases, which she co–authored. In particular, she highlighted diverse human stories and the behaviour of vulnerable victims behind the TIP cases, analyzed in the digest and answered the students’ numerous and insightful questions.

The course sensitized the students on risk factors for trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants and provided a platform for discussion on policy responses to reduce vulnerability to exploitation in the current context of migration.

The course was an example of how UNODC’s E4J initiative supports tertiary level educators and academics in their efforts to transmit knowledge and create a deeper understanding of rule of law related issues, with a focus on the subject areas of crime prevention and criminal justice, anti-corruption, organized crime, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants and others.

UNODC supports efforts to combat human trafficking in Kyrgyzstan and the Central Asia region with support from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).