The Global Alliance Against Traffici in Women (GAATW) in collaboration with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)



In the past year, Northern governments facing public outcry at perceived influxes of migrants have intensified bi- and multi-lateral discussions on ‘mixed-migration’ and smuggling, including its intersects with trafficking. Increasingly smuggling and trafficking are seen as interdependent and often used interchangeably in discourse and policy. The human rights community is largely failing to address the impact of criminalizing anti-smuggling measures which often see States failing in their responsibilities to protect, promote and uphold human rights.  This neglect has not just permitted a weakening of rights protections gained for trafficked persons, refugees and other protected migrants, but has the effect of creating an unacceptably weak ‘minimum human rights framework’ for all migrants. Governments have devised policies which address the prevention of migration and the narrowing of protection categories as symbiotic: spaces for refugees, trafficked persons and other migrants with special protections are reduced and increasing numbers of migrants are sorted into the ‘irregular’ category.

The GAATW and OHCHR Asia-Pacific Smuggling Roundtable brought together governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental representatives to discuss current anti-smuggling measures and developments.


  • Rights protections for smuggled migrants are accorded within the Smuggling Protocol but have yet to be enumerated and developed, through soft law, unlike the Human Trafficking Protocol;
  • The human rights community has not significantly engaged in building a consensus towards a rights-based approach to anti-smuggling;
  • There are serious protection gaps for migrants who experience abuses within smuggling and who do not fit existing State protection criteria;
  • Migration deterrence measures often cause or aggravate rights violations;
  • Anti-smuggling measures turn the administrative offense of not filling out correct papers into a criminal offense with often disproportional punishment.

Beyond Borders: Trafficking in the Context of Migrant, Labour and Women’s Rights

4-7 July 2010, Bangkok, Thailand

The four-day event focused on the practical and conceptual linkages between trafficking and migration, gender, labour and globalisation and on GAATW’s future strategic directions. A series of working papers on these linkages and how they intersect with global security was also showcased, together with the findings of Feminist Participatory Action Research (FPAR) conducted in collaboration with GAATW member and ally organisations from all regions. The FPAR projects were a way of centring the voices of migrant and/or trafficked women in anti-trafficking research and capturing the complexities of women’s experiences of migration and labour.


31 August-4 September 2009, Kathmandu, Nepal
This five-day regional consultation with member organisations and allies in Asia discussed the various socio-political situation in a number of countries in Asia and its impact on women’s human rights; interactive discussions on the rights of domestic workers and another session on the impact of anti-trafficking legislation on the rights of sex workers as well as thematic workshops on advocacy, psycho-social care, and the links between migration, labour, gender and trafficking.

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The dearth of research and the scarcity of recorded primary knowledge is being increasingly recognised and lamented in the field of anti-trafficking. The GAATW International Secretariat (IS) has sought to make a small but we hope significant contribution to filling this lacuna by looking to the experience and knowledge of our member organisations and others working around the world to combat trafficking. We have divided this inquiry into the three fields so commonly discussed in anti-trafficking work: protection, prosecution and prevention. In doing so, we are recognising that trafficking is a global problem and that many of the challenges we face and the strategies we use to overcome these can, in many instances, be shared and used as a source of inspiration for each other. As part of this endeavour, detailed work has been carried out in exploring country-specific information, compiling personal experiences and facilitating international consultations among like-minded colleagues.

This document, merging the findings of three consultations, reflects the culmination of these multi-country, multi-disciplinary collaborations undertaken from 2005-2006.

Despite the increasing attention, however, only a limited body of material exists on strategies implemented by NGOs, international organisations and governments, much less on the influence of those endeavours. The GAATW prevention report aims to contribute to filling this lacuna, providing a practical catalogue of the projects, activities, experience and observations of global prevention initiatives. Moreover, it provides a basis for the stimulation of new ideas and a discussion point for the challenges, new directions and evaluative mechanisms in the prevention of human trafficking.

The basis of the report stems from the results of a Global Consultation on Prevention of Human Trafficking, held 13-16 November 2006 in Bangkok with a delegation of 22 practitioners, specialists and academics. Data was also drawn from a desk review of current literature about prevention strategies and programmes and the findings of an international questionnaire of 28 NGOs, international organisations and selected government agencies in five continents.

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