In 2020, the UNODC, with support and funding from the Government of Germany, initiated the project ‘Public-Private Partnerships: Fostering Engagement with the Private Sector on the Implementation of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its Trafficking in Persons Protocol’ (‘PPP Project’). This PPP Project aims to improve effective partnership between the public and private sectors with a view to better assisting member States in their implementation of the UNTOC and its Trafficking in Persons Protocol.
The main outcome of the PPP project is the drafting of a Compendium of Promising Practices on PPPs.
This Compendium is aimed at building bridges between public authorities and the private sector to promote coherent and coordinated strategies to prevent and counter trafficking in persons. It presents insights gained from the Regional Expert Group Meetings (REGMs) discussions, helps to understand PPPs to prevent trafficking in persons, provides examples of promising practices, lessons learned and recommend strategies as well as action points on how to create PPPs in order to strengthen multi-stakeholder responses to trafficking in persons. It is hoped that this Compendium will encourage and assist private sector entities, policymakers, law enforcement officers, judges, prosecutors, labour inspectors and other relevant public bodies as well as civil society and academia to effectively work together to prevent and combat the crime.
The Compendium looks at PPPs as they related to countering trafficking in persons from within the supply chain, financial and technology sectors.
Given the global nature of supply chains and their multi-layered character, aspects such as sourcing, production, manufacturing and distribution can all take place in different locations around the world. Exploitation can also take place in every one of these stages from the sourcing of materials to the shipping of goods. Traceability is, therefore, often very difficult within a supply chain and governments and companies may not realise that human trafficking is occurring and deeply embedded within it. For this reason, organisations must take all steps necessary to fully understand how the goods and services that form part of their supply chain operate. Collaborative and coordinated action are required to counter and prevent human trafficking from within supply chains. Collaboration between the public and private sector can facilitate much-needed supply chain transparency, including through a wide range of schemes. Both the public and private sectors must, therefore, assess which other organisations could have technical and operational expertise to help enhance their overarching anti-trafficking strategy and approach. A PPP could be an effective way to contend with the vastness of trafficking challenges within the supply chain since no actor can combat human trafficking in isolation.
An important aspect of addressing human trafficking is the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators. Successful prosecutions can protect victims of trafficking and can help to prevent the crime from occurring or re-occurring. However, there are many obstacles to the effective investigation and prosecution of trafficking in persons, one of which might be the lack of substantial evidence to charge and convict perpetrators. Other obstacles include weak coordination within law enforcement agencies or lack of appropriate legal frameworks to establish accountability.
To alleviate these hurdles, the financial sector can play an important role in supporting authorities’ effective investigation and prosecution of human trafficking through the provision of financial data, particularly relevant as human trafficking is to be framed, in line with the UNTOC provisions, as a predicate offence for money laundering.
The technology sector has an important role to play in the fight against human trafficking. Technology, itself, is a valuable tool to address the crime, in which technology can be utilised to create unique and innovative solutions. In particular, during the global COVID-19 pandemic technology has facilitated the continuation of services for trafficking survivors, including legal aid, access to education and even psychosocial therapy. However, the technology sector also has a responsibility to actively address trafficking in persons since technology enables the crime and can be a facilitating tool for traffickers throughout the entire trafficking process. Furthermore, technology allows perpetrators to access the services of victims of trafficking, use certain platforms, such as social media, gaming, dating applications, to exploit these victims further and even provide new services such as live streaming of sexual acts.
Given the accelerated use of technology in all phases of the trafficking supply chain in recent years, sped up even further by the events of COVID-19 - from the recruitment of victims to transportation, to advertising and financial transactions - a more coordinated and intensified effort to ensure that technology cannot be utilised for this purpose is required from within the sector.