GAATW Logo

Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women

Human Rights
at home, abroad and on the way...

GAATW Logo

Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women

Human Rights
at home, abroad and on the way...

Joint Statement to the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols Thereto

 Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW, Thailand), 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) and the Academic Council on the United Nations (Austria)

Agenda item 2(b): Review of the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto: Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

Delivered Wednesday 8 October 2014

Thank you Mr President

The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW), La Strada International, LEFÖ-IBF, Ban Ying Coordination and Counselling Center Against Trafficking in Persons, Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW), and the Academic Council on the United Nations welcome this opportunity to discuss the implementation of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

Two years ago, we were here with you at the sixth session of the Conference of the Parties to lobby for the adoption of a Review Mechanism for the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols. We had followed the four years of deliberations by member states and hoped to see the adoption of a mechanism that would allow all anti-trafficking stakeholders to work together to better assist people who have been trafficked and work towards the eradication of this egregious human rights violation. As we all know, states parties were unable to adopt a review mechanism for those treaties.

Next year will mark the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the Trafficking in Persons Protocol. As we meet again, we repeat our message from two years ago: it is time to review implementation; it is time to work together to support people who have been trafficked and share strategies to ensure that there are fewer such individuals in future. It is time to deliver the accountability that victims of organised crimes, including human trafficking, deserve from States parties and the UN.

The review mechanism requires a multi-stakeholder approach but it must include civil society actors. NGOs and other elements of civil society are named as actors in the Trafficking in Persons Protocol.[1] The need for the participation of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the anti-trafficking response has long been recognised in both the UN human rights and criminal justice forums.[2]

The experiences that GAATW’s Europe-based member organisations have with the Council of Europe Convention on Action against trafficking in human beings monitoring body, GRETA, show that the evaluation work, the visits and the reports of the group of experts is highly valued.  Evaluated states recognise the recommendations given by GRETA as supportive and encouraging to improve efforts to prevent, prosecute human trafficking and protect the rights of the victims.  It provides opportunities for closer cooperation between and within member states and good practises are shared and adapted.   

As we prepare for the 13th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice[3] in Doha, Qatar, next April, we respectfully remind states of the commitment made in the Salvador Declaration[4], the outcome of the 12th Crime Congress in Brazil in 2010, in which they clearly recognised the importance of civil society participation in crime prevention efforts and specifically, in the work to end human trafficking.[5]  In particular:

Paragraph 33. We recognize that the development and adoption of crime prevention policies and their monitoring and evaluation are the responsibility of States. We believe that such efforts should be based on a participatory, collaborative and integrated approach that includes all relevant stakeholders including those from civil society.

We look forward to working with you in that “participatory, collaborative and integrated approach” so that we can draw on existing expertise – expertise that is not just located in State actors. Independent experts, from academia, NGOs and other civil society bodies, have analyses, original research and direct experience – of crimes covered by the UNTOC and its Protocols, and of the laws, policies, programmes and initiatives put in place to address these crimes – to contribute meaningfully to our search for solutions to organized crime.

GAATW’s research also showed that evaluations of anti-trafficking initiatives almost never seek input from the intended beneficiaries of this work, the survivors of trafficking. We need an inclusive process that would seek to learn from survivors and their advocates to ensure accountability and improve anti-trafficking initiatives.

Thank you Mr President



[1] Specifically, Articles 6(3): Assistance to and protection of victims of trafficking in persons; 9(3): Prevention of trafficking in persons, and 10(2): Information exchange and training.

[2] See for example, the 19th session of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (Vienna, May 2010) where member states adopted a resolution that made explicit the vital role of civil society in “effectively countering the threat of trafficking in persons”: Recognizing also that broad international cooperation between Member States and relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations is essential for effectively countering the threat of trafficking in persons and other contemporary forms of slavery, [source: Resolution 19/4, Measures for achieving progress on the issue of trafficking in persons, pursuant to the Salvador Declaration on Comprehensive Strategies for Global Challenges: Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Systems and Their Development in a Changing World, E/CN.15/2010/L.12/Rev.1, 21 May 2010, para.17, http://www.unodc.org/documents/commissions/CCPCJ_session19/Draft_report/E2010_30eV1054137.pdf, retrieved 13 February 2012]

[4] Salvador Declaration on Comprehensive Strategies for Global Challenges: Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Systems and Their Development in a Changing World. Adopted at the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, 12–19April 2010, Salvador, Brazil. Available at http://www.unodc.org/documents/crime-congress/12th-Crime-Congress/Documents/Salvador_Declaration/Salvador_Declaration_E.pdf, retrieved 13 February 2012.

[5] Also, paragraphs 31, 36 and 43 of the Salvador Declaration:

Paragraph 31. We call on civil society, including the media, to support the efforts to protect children and youth from exposure to content that may exacerbate violence and crime, particularly content depicting and glorifying acts of violence against women and children.

Paragraph 36. We urge Member States to consider adopting legislation, strategies and policies for the prevention of trafficking in persons, the prosecution of offenders and the protection of victims of trafficking, consistent with the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. We call on Member States, where applicable, in cooperation with civil society and non-governmental organizations, to follow a victim-centred approach with full respect for the human rights of the victims of trafficking, and to make better use of the tools developed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Paragraph 43. We endeavour to take measures to promote wider education and awareness of the United Nations standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice to ensure a culture of respect for the rule of law. In this regard, we recognize the role of civil society and the media in cooperating with States in these efforts. We invite the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to continue to play a key role in the development and implementation of measures to promote and develop such a culture, in close coordination with other relevant United Nations entities.