UNODC Strengthens Partnerships between Public and Private Sectors in Mexico, Central America & the Caribbean to Counter Trafficking in Persons

© Getty Images Pro / Saiyood

Vienna (Austria), 18 December 2020 — As a great leap towards Fostering Cooperation between the Public and Private Sectors to Counter Trafficking in Persons, UNODC gathered over 60 participants, whose mission is to address human trafficking in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, for a two-day Regional Expert Group Meeting (REGM) on 9-10 December 2020. The gathering was made possible with the support of Germany.

The meeting brought together speakers and participants from regional governments, the private sector, NGOs and academia. Among them were representatives from the Government of Mexico, Microsoft, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), Scotia Bank, as well as the Citizen Security Council (Consejo Ciudadano) Mexico, Truckers against Trafficking, Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association, the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, and the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force. During the event, participants shared their experiences and expertise in addressing Trafficking in Persons (TIP).

Kristian Hölge Representative of the UNODC Liaison and Partnership Office in Mexico affirmed that, “all together we can start ending this crime that is happening right in front of us.”

Félix Santana, Technical Secretary of the Inter-Ministerial Commission to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Crimes Related to TIP and Ministry of Interior for Mexico, explained that, “One of the main actions to face these complex crime phenomena is the alliance with other actors and CSOs, but particularly with the private sector and the community in general. It is necessary to share promising practices, information, experiences, and resources.”

Barry MacKillop, Deputy Director of Intelligence at FINTRAC, and Stuart Davis, Executive Vice President of Scotia Bank (Canada), both shared their best practices on the use of financial intelligence to identify human trafficking. While Esther Goetsch, Director of Coalitions Build, Truckers against Trafficking, explained how professional truck drivers are playing an important role as eyes and ears on the road in identifying victims of trafficking.

Participants also had the opportunity to discuss the role of supply chains, the technology sector, and financial institutions in preventing and fighting human trafficking. They reflected on the challenges and best practices of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) to address trafficking within their respective groups, and proposed recommendations on the way forward.

Some recommendations included: 

  • Enhancing awareness around human trafficking, including through the use of technology.
  • Identifying and training key public sector partners to understand the problem and the ways that they can collaborate with the private sector.
  • Strengthening multi-stakeholder cooperation and countering deficiencies in domestic coordination mechanisms to address TIP, as well as protecting and providing redress to survivors.

This second REGM served as a platform for experts to analyze and explore relevant examples of PPPs that could help to address human trafficking across the region. It allowed participants to compare practices and identify lessons learnt from private sector experiences on integrating anti-trafficking methods in their business models, further serving to successfully identify effective strategies for the region.

Two additional meetings, planned in 2021, will focus on PPPs to counter trafficking in persons in Asia and thereafter, in Africa.

In 2021, the UNODC will also launch and disseminate a compendium that will facilitate successful PPPs to address TIP, based on a range of practices from across the world and reflecting on lessons learned in recent years by a variety of stakeholders.