While 129 States, to date, have ratified the United Nations Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, giving effect to the Protocol remains a challenge in all regions. Most countries do not have dedicated action plans or strategies. Most commonly, migrant smuggling is partially addressed through efforts to combat irregular migration, by strengthening border controls and through efforts undertaken against transnational organized crime. Where migrants are simply detained and returned to countries of origin without the smuggling actors involved in their migration being investigated, the criminal processes at work continue unchallenged. Where border controls are strengthened without addressing the root causes of irregular migration and demand for smuggling services, the modus operandi of smugglers will simply adapt. Where opportunities to safely and regularly migrate are not offered as part of a holistic response to migrant smuggling alongside measures to address root causes of irregular migration, the demand for migrant smuggling services will only increase.
These considerations highlight the need to elaborate an International Framework for Action to implement the Smuggling of Migrants Protocol (Framework for Action) to harmonize and coordinate a holistic and global response to the phenomenon in countries of origin, transit and destination. The UNODC International Framework for Action to Implement the Smuggling of Migrants Protocol is now available online.
The purpose of the Framework for Action is to assist Member States and non-state actors in identifying and addressing gaps in their response to migrant smuggling in accordance with international standards. The Framework for Action unpacks provisions of the Smuggling of Migrants Protocol, drawing upon international instruments, political commitments, guidelines and best practices to enable the implementation of a comprehensive response to migrant smuggling.
The Framework for Action consists of a narrative section and a set of tables. The Narrative describes the key challenges in the implementation of the Migrant Smuggling Protocol and elaborates guiding principles in responding to them. The set of tables details practical measures that can be taken in response of four key pillars:
i) Prosecution of migrant smugglers;
ii) Protection of smuggled migrants and their rights;
iii) Prevention of migrant smuggling;
iv) Cooperation to address migrant smuggling.
For each of the four pillars, the Framework for Action is divided into:
- Protocol Objectives, which reflect the provisions of the Smuggling of Migrants Protocol.
- Specific Objectives, which explain the intent of the provisions.
- Framework Requirements, setting out minimum standards for action.
- Implementation Measures, which offer best practices to achieve effective implementation.
- Operational Indicators, to measure implementation and help monitor change over time.
The Framework for Action to implement the Smuggling of Migrants Protocol has been developed by UNODC through a wide consultative process, including an expert group meeting held in Vienna, Austria in 2010. Its elaboration benefited from contribution of experts from ARTIP, Centre for Migrant Advocacy, EU Fundamental Rights Agency, Global Detention Project, Human Rights Watch, ICMC, ICMPD, International Council on Human Rights Policy, International Detention Coalition, IOM, Migrant Forum Asia, Migrant Forum Asia, OCRIEST, OHCHR, PICUM, UN Office of Legal Affairs, UNHCR, UNICEF, Women's Refugee Commission.
The development of the Framework for Action to implement the Smuggling of Migrants Protocol has been made possible with funding provided by the Government of France.
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