GAATW reports back from United Nations transnational organised crime conference
Last week, GAATW’s International Advocacy Officer and representatives from several GAATW member organisations participated in the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the Protocols Thereto.
GAATW has been following the discussions on a possible review mechanism to the UNTOC and its Protocols since 2008 when states at the fourth session of the COP acknowledged that it was difficult to measure progress made in their implementation of these treaties without an effective monitoring mechanism. We view it as a necessary and overdue step towards accountability for anti-trafficking initiatives. However, at the sixth session of the COP in 2012, States were unable to agree terms for such a process. On 8 October 2014, GAATW delivered a statement to the plenary emphasising the importance of a review mechanism civil society participation in that process.
Following two years without formal negotiations, this year’s COP saw a resolution looking to renew the work towards a review mechanism with a view to bringing it to the next session of the COP for adoption (in 2016). The resolution focused on extending the mandates of the working groups of the COP and mandating them to move forward on discussions on a review mechanism.
For most of the week we heard that States were locked in stalemate over the issue of civil society participation in the working groups and this remained in question after the session was due to have finished on Friday evening. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were requested to leave the room, and, at the time of writing, we have not seen the final text of the resolution that States were finally able to adopt late on Friday night. However we have learned from our contacts that there is a basis for NGO involvement in a prospective review mechanism included in the adopted resolution. This is a positive outcome though it is troubling that it is deemed by some States to be such a contentious issue.
By the time states return to the COP, at the eighth session in 2016, both the UNTOC and the Trafficking Protocol will have passed their 15-year anniversaries. It means that it will be nearly 16 years from their adoption that we get another chance to see if states can agree to do what the UNTOC mandated them to do in 2000 – to “agree upon mechanisms for […]: Reviewing periodically the implementation of this Convention” (Article 32.3(d)). Any process adopted needs to live up to the guiding principles identified for the review mechanism two years ago of being “transparent, efficient, non-intrusive, inclusive and impartial”. Anything less than this will not provide accountability in anti-trafficking work and will fail people who are trafficked.
GAATW members from La Strada International (Netherlands), LEFÖ-IBF (Austria), Ban Ying Coordination and Counselling Center Against Trafficking in Persons (Germany), Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW, Cambodia); CHS-Peru, and Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee (PNCC, Nepal) attended the session in Vienna, Austria, and spoke at side events addressing the links between corruption and organised crime , and on trafficking in persons.