Message of the UNODC Executive Director
on International Migrants Day

Vienna (Austria), 18 December 2021

On International Migrants Day, we stand in solidarity and compassion with all women, men and children on the move, and call on countries to redouble their commitment to safe, regular and dignified migration.

Border closures and other restrictions during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic have created additional challenges and potential dangers for migrants, while providing migrant smugglers and human traffickers with more opportunities to exploit global hardship and desperation.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is committed to enhancing international cooperation as called for by the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, including to prevent and counter migrant smuggling and human trafficking in line with the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols.

The new UNODC “STARSOM” programme to counter migrant smuggling is working to protect the lives and rights of migrants across routes leading to North America, and crossing countries in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, and the Caribbean.

UNODC has also launched a new Observatory on Smuggling of Migrants to research key smuggling routes and the dynamics of this crime, to assist policymakers, inform more effective responses and direct support to smuggled migrants.

Migrants contribute to their communities. We need all women and men to build forward from the pandemic and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Let us harness the potential of human mobility by working together to stop migrant smugglers and human traffickers from preying upon and exploiting people on the move, and protect the lives, rights, and dignity of all.