Fostering a more efficient response to migrant smuggling in Asia

5 April 2013 - This week, UNODC was granted full membership in the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime. This voluntary forum brings more than 40 countries and numerous international organizations together in crafting and implementing solid responses to migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons. The Bali Process also endorsed the UNODC-developed Voluntary Reporting System on Migrant Smuggling and Related Conduct (VRS-MSRC), a secure, internet-based tool that allows contributing countries to collect and share information and analysis of migrant smuggling and irregular migration.

The VRS-MSRC was developed to address strategic knowledge gaps in order to inform national and regional migrant smuggling policies. It is based on the principle of mutual information sharing, meaning that only countries that contribute information are able to access data provided by others. UNODC developed the VRS-MSRC in close consultation with authorities from countries and international organizations in Asia, the Pacific, Europe, and North America. Delegates involved in the Bali Process have repeatedly emphasized the importance of gathering and sharing information and intelligence on migrant smuggling.

"Migrant smuggling is not just an illicit service industry that undermines state sovereignty. It is also a deadly business," said Mr. John Sandage, Director of the UNODC Division for Treaty Affairs. "Smuggled migrants perish by drowning. They perish in containers. It's a profitable business - and the organizers face little risk of detection and punishment. We must reverse this balance."

During a recent meeting of Bali Process senior officials, a number of States that had participated in a two-month pilot phase of the VRS-MSRC in late 2012 shared their feedback with UNODC. The officials attested to the benefits of using the system.

The Bali Process is an inter-governmental dialogue that covers mainly West, South, South-East and East Asia, as well as the Pacific. It is co-chaired by Australia and Indonesia, which together with New Zealand, Thailand, the International Organization for Migration and UN High Commissioner for Refugees, form the Bali Process Steering Group.


Further information:

Web story from the UNODC Regional Office for South-East Asia

Brochure on the Voluntary Reporting System on Migrant Smuggling and Related Conduct (VRS-MSRC) (pdf)

The Bali Process