Yury Fedotov

Director General/Executive Director


Remarks on the European Union and UNODC Cooperation to Prevent and Combat Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants: Introducing GLO.ACT

25 May 2016



Distinguished participants,

According to the UN Secretary-General's new report, In Safety and Dignity, there are close to 250 million people on the move globally.

For all of the positive effects of migration, these unprecedented flows of people are generating new criminal opportunities, particularly for migrant smugglers and human traffickers.

A joint Europol-Interpol report found that criminal organizations made between five and six billion dollars from smuggling migrants in 2015, with 90 per cent of irregular journeys to Europe facilitated by smugglers.

Traffickers exploit people without support networks who, upon arrival at a destination, may face barriers to accessing crucial services, employment and justice.

At-risk migrants, especially children, have become easy targets for abuse and exploitation, as we continue to witness in Europe and in other regions of the world.

Clearly more needs to be done to reduce vulnerabilities, enhance protection and stop the criminals, as part of comprehensive responses to the ongoing refugee crisis and migration challenges. 

The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols on migrant smuggling and human trafficking provide the legal framework to address these distinct, but often overlapping, crimes.

However, although the protocols have been ratified by nearly every country in the world, implementation problems remain.

There remain challenges with national legal frameworks, with obtaining accurate data on figures and flows, and with establishing cooperation among different agencies and stakeholders, especially across borders.

The continuing crisis makes it even more critical that we take steps to address these shortcomings and sharpen criminal justice responses.

Our project with the European Union seeks to do exactly that.

The "Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants" is a four-year project, supporting 13 strategically selected countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

It follows a multidisciplinary, rights-based and gender-specific approach, centred on the needs and well-being of trafficking victims and smuggled migrants.

Implemented by UNODC with IOM and UNICEF, the project seeks to support development of comprehensive strategies and policies tailored to national contexts.

It provides tailored capacity building and technical assistance to ensure that domestic legislative frameworks are in line with international standards and best practice.

The project will also have a significant cross-border cooperation pillar, to strengthen action within and between countries and regions of origin, transit and destination.

GLO.ACT builds on the achievements, good practices and lessons learned of our previous project with the EU.

It also follows on years of close cooperation between UNODC and the EU, its anti-trafficking coordinator and agencies to address human trafficking and migrant smuggling, including through inter-regional initiatives such as the Khartoum and the Rabat Processes.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Since the Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants Protocols came into force a little more than a decade ago, we have made tremendous progress in generating awareness and assistance to address these crimes.

The EU has been one of the key donors to contribute significant funding for these efforts, even as early as 2009, when migrant smuggling received far less attention than it does today.

Now these issues are very clearly on the international agenda, and the importance of countering crimes like human trafficking and migrant smuggling, promoting justice and providing protection has been recognized by the Sustainable Development Goals.

UNODC is supporting these comprehensive UN system efforts, including through the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons, which we are chairing this year.

Furthermore, UNODC is part of the core group of UN agencies working on the preparations and organization of a high-level General Assembly summit on managing large-scale movements of migrants and refugees, to take place on 19 September in New York.

Finally, we will be presenting the 2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons later this year, which I hope will inform further action.

I would like to thank our EU partners once again, in particular the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, Ms. Vassiliadou, and Ambassador Lenoir for their long-standing support.

We look forward to further strengthening our joint efforts against human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

Thank you .