Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director


Remarks of the UNODC Executive Director

High-level panel on “Effective identification of victims and investigation of crimes of trafficking in persons through development of international partnerships

   26 November 2021



Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to address you at this important event on ways to strengthen partnerships against trafficking in persons.

Human trafficking is a crime that inflicts suffering across borders and across societies.

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has left the most vulnerable more exposed than ever before.

People in different parts of the world are desperately seeking any opportunity to pursue a decent livelihood, and traffickers are preying on this desperation.

UNODC’s latest Global Report on Trafficking in Persons found that migrants make up more than one-third of the total share of detected victims globally.

To confront this transnational threat, we need effective international cooperation and strong, wide-ranging partnerships, uniting action across countries of origin, transit, and destination.

Countries should look to formulate comprehensive action plans to address trafficking in persons, and to incorporate international partnerships as a central pillar in those strategies.

Through joint work between governments, international organizations, and civil society, we can build regional capacities to advance victim-centred and human rights-based approaches to countering trafficking in persons, including detection, investigation, and prosecution, as well as referral of victims.

As guardian of the UN Protocol against trafficking in persons, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime is committed to bringing together different stakeholders and providing technical assistance to prevent and counter trafficking in persons in your region.

Through its global, regional and country programmes, UNODC has long-standing experience working with partners in Central Asia to tackle human trafficking challenges.

In Uzbekistan, for example, UNODC has trained over 100 practitioners from territorial commissions for combating trafficking in persons and forced labour this year, through a series of seminars organized in partnership with national authorities.

Looking forward, we aim to increase our engagement in the region.

Earlier this week, the new UNODC Regional Programme for Central Asia 2022-2025 was signed by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.

Taking effective action against trafficking in persons is among the priorities of this programme.

I call on all of you to work with us in its implementation, to end suffering, help victims, and bring traffickers to justice. 

Leveraging our partnerships, we can improve the responses in important ways, including by setting up regional law enforcement knowledge platforms for countering trafficking in persons, and by developing proactive approaches to identify and protect victims, through national and transnational referral mechanisms.

The UNODC Regional Advisor on countering trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, based in Tashkent, is here to work with you in the planning and implementation of counter-trafficking initiatives and mechanisms, and I encourage you to strengthen engagement to help UNODC tailor our support to you.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Uzbekistan for its commitment to stepping up the fight against trafficking in persons.

Together with our partners, UNODC has submitted a number of recommendations to the National Rapporteur and Chair of the National Commission for combatting trafficking in persons and forced labour of the Republic of Uzbekistan. I hope that these recommendations will contribute to your efforts.

I would also like to thank the US, and in particular INL, for their vital support enabling us to implement activities related to countering trafficking in persons, including in this region.

In Central Asia, partnerships against trafficking will be needed more than ever, particularly as the situation in Afghanistan threatens to deepen desperation and exploitation, potentially triggering human trafficking flows in the region and beyond the region.

The international conference you are convening today exemplifies the spirit of partnership we need for more effective action against trafficking, for the good of victims and societies at large.

Thank you and I wish you all fruitful discussions.