IOM works in partnership with governments, the United Nations, international and non-governmental organizations, the private sector and development partners on all aspects of counter-trafficking responses – prevention, protection, and prosecution.
Since the mid-1990s, IOM and its partners have provided protection and assistance to close to 100,000 men, women and children, who were trafficked for sexual and labour exploitation, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, or for organ removal. Agriculture, fishing, domestic work and hospitality, commercial sexual exploitation, pornography, begging, construction and manufacturing are some of the sectors in which victims were exploited.
IOM takes a comprehensive approach to addressing human trafficking. Respect for human rights, the physical, mental and social well-being of the individual and his or her community, and the sustainability of our actions through institutional capacity development and partnerships are at the centre of all of IOM’s counter-trafficking efforts.
IOM Director General António Guterres' speech
This year is the twentieth anniversary of the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, and its historic Protocol [Palermo Protocol] to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
We are half-way through a very difficult year for everyone, and our contemporary challenges have had a severe impact on people’s vulnerability to trafficking and exploitation.
IOM was implementing counter trafficking interventions in accordance with human rights principles long before the Palermo Protocol gave us the clearly defined parameters that we know today. And likewise, our interventions have evolved over time as new forms of trafficking have emerged.
We have learned, as have governments, that it is imperative to partner with the private sector, trade unions, supply chain auditors, and recruitment agencies to put in place practices to reduce the risks of trafficking and exploitation.
As we embark upon a new decade, the world is now confronted with perhaps our biggest challenge to counter trafficking – that of a pandemic, that has in addition brought severe restrictions to mobility, impacted livelihoods, and limited access to vulnerable people. COVID-19 has brought a devastating impact upon the household security and health of billions of people all over the world, which inevitably heightens vulnerability and risk of exploitation, whether it is job-seekers taking hazardous journeys, families relying on child labour for survival, or the marriage of young daughters in a desperate attempt to relieve economic strain.
Now, as we have always done, the anti-trafficking community must evolve and adapt to this new crisis, finding innovative ways to identify trends, to screen for vulnerabilities, to support States while advocating for human rights and the prevention of abuse, and to seek safe and viable options for those who will remain on the move. Let’s move into this direction together, as united we are stronger!