UNODC promotes public-private partnerships to tackle trafficking in persons


Vienna (Austria), 22 November 2021 – As mandated by the General Assembly resolution 64/293, a high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the appraisal of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons was convened on 22-23 November 2021 to assess achievements, gaps and challenges, including in the implementation of the relevant instruments. The private sector can play a key role in preventing trafficking in persons, as reaffirmed during the high-level meeting. Through a virtual side event on „Preventing trafficking in persons through public-private partnerships: Promising practices”, UNODC built momentum in fostering closer engagement between the private sector and governments, as well as relevant civil society organizations and academics in advancing coordinated responses to trafficking in persons, including through public-private partnerships.

Jean-Luc Lemahieu,Director of the Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs at UNODC stressed the importance of working together as well coordinating efforts to address trafficking in persons. “It takes a network to defeat a network. UNODC’s Compendium of Promising Practices on Fostering Public-Private Partnerships to Prevent and Counter Trafficking in Persons, is in line with the spirit of the Global Plan of Action and will be instrumental in fostering such initiative to address Trafficking in Persons", - highlighted Jean-Luc Lemahieu.

This requires a coordinated regional and global multi-stakeholder approach, including the private sector, stressed Gabriele Scheel,Head of Division, International Cooperation against Terrorism, Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime and Corruption at Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Government of German. She provided information about the "Act on Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains" adopted by the German Parliament in June 2021 (Lieferkettengesetz) that imposes (for the first time) a binding obligation on companies to establish, implement and update due diligence procedures to improve compliance with specified core human rights in supply chains.

John Cotton Richmond, a partner in Dentons' Federal Regulatory and Compliance practice and former US Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons for the US Department of State, highlighted that progress achieved to date should be celebrated. He acknowledged however, that we still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do, as the identification of trafficking cases and the prosecution of traffickers continue to decrease, while victim identification continues to increase. He called for more survivors in the leadership and the inclusion of survivors in policy dialogues and policymaking to combat trafficking.

Morgane Nicot of UNODC’s Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section, brought forward some lessons learnt featured in the Compendium, which was developed after consulting 250 governmental, private sector and relevant civil society and academic representatives in four regions of the world. She stressed how this effort worked towards the inclusion of all stakeholders as part of the solution to put an end to human trafficking and impunity. As such, the work of UNODC on public-private partnerships meaningfully contributes to the implementation of the Global Plan of Action through joint global efforts to prevent and counter the trafficking in persons.

Chevaan Daniel, Sri Lankan Business Leader in the Bali Process Government and Business Forum and Executive Director of Capital Maharaja Organization highlighted the vulnerabilities of unemployed young people and migrant workers. He called for more actions to collect data that would lead to the truth about human trafficking, its root causes and impacts. This way our actions must be grounded in evidence.

The side event brought together more than 100 participants from all sectors and provided an opportunity to exchange on how to prevent and combat trafficking in persons through public-private partnerships. UNODC has been supporting the Office of the General Assembly throughout the process of the high-level meeting since the beginning of the year and will continue to support the Global Plan of Actions’ implementation moving forward, including through pushing further the promotion of the involvement of the private sector to prevent and counter human trafficking.