Vienna, (Austria) 5 October 2023 – Human trafficking cases have over the past decades been on the rise, with only a few years of decline recorded. However, challenges in identifying victims, conducting investigations and prosecuting offenders persist worldwide. Economic crises, armed conflicts, and climate change-induced disasters force millions of people to flee desperate conditions of poverty or violence, leaving many of them vulnerable to malicious intentions of traffickers, who seek opportunities to exploit individuals for profit.
The Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT) held a special event to brief Member States and international experts on its work and current priorities in seeking a collaborative approach to combating this crime. The briefing took place in the margins of the 13th meeting of the intergovernmental Working Group on Trafficking in Persons held in Vienna, from 2-3 October 2023.
“ICAT provides a platform for the exchange of information and best practices on various anti-trafficking actions and strives to provide the ‘One UN’ approach to promoting a holistic response to human trafficking,” said Mukundi Mutasa, UNODC Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer, addressing the participants.
The Group’s membership has grown to include 31 organizations, all with different mandates, expertise and strengths, which help make the Group's policy guidance more comprehensive and relevant.
ICAT’s 2023 co-chairs – the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children (OSRSG-VAC) – also spoke at the briefing. They presented key actions throughout 2023 to implement the ICAT Plan of Action.
“The anti-trafficking community today faces an unprecedented scope and variety of challenges spurred by the volatile global environment, which contributes to the proliferation and diversification of trafficking and exploitation,” said Hanna Antonova, IOM Protection Officer, during the briefing.
In 2023, ICAT focused on child protection, collecting human trafficking data, strengthening multidisciplinary partnerships, promoting survivor engagement, protecting victims’ and survivors’ rights, understanding and responding to the linkages between climate change and human trafficking, as well as enhancing the response to human trafficking in the context of humanitarian crises.
“Despite the improvement in policy and practices, children continue to face alarming threats of abuse and exploitation within this crime,” said Tea Machaidze, Child Protection Officer in the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children.
“One in three detected victims is a child. As such, anti-trafficking communities need to step up efforts to prevent and end child trafficking,” she added.
Multi-stakeholder cooperation was also highlighted as a key area for advancing anti-trafficking efforts, reflecting the multifaceted nature of trafficking in persons. Antonova underlined ICAT’s intent to increase its field outreach, diverse partnerships, and resource mobilization.“We welcome suggestions for what the Group should focus on next year, we welcome offers of collaborations and recommendations for anti-trafficking platforms at the regional and national levels that ICAT should reach out to,” she said.
ICAT is a multilateral policy forum established by the United Nations General Assembly through resolution 61/180 with the aim of improving the coordination and cooperation among UN agencies and other relevant international organizations to facilitate a holistic and comprehensive approach to preventing and combating trafficking in persons, including protection and support for victims and survivors of trafficking.
Through the same resolution, the General Assembly tasked the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as Coordinator of ICAT, with keeping Member States informed of the schedule of and the progress made by the Coordination Group.
In 2023, ICAT is co-chaired by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the Special-Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children (OSRSG VAC).