Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

United Nations: UNODC and IOM Sign MOU to Enhance Cooperation in Combating Human Trafficking, Migrant Smuggling

(Apr. 23, 2012) The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on April 17, 2012, to work more closely together to combat crimes of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants. The two agencies agreed to enhance coordination, information exchange, and joint actions. They also pledged to improve border management. (UN and Global Migration Agency Agree to Step Up Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking, UN NEWS CENTRE (Apr. 17, 2012); UNODC and International Organization for Migration Sign Agreement for Closer Cooperation, UNODC website (Apr. 17, 2012).)

On the occasion of the signing of the MOU, the UNODC took note of the long-standing partnership between the IOM and the UNODC, “formalized in a 1996 United Nations cooperation framework, which has been reaffirmed by today's agreement, with more specific cooperation measures.” It further pointed out, “UNODC is already working closely with IOM in the area of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants in Southern Africa, West Africa, the Horn of Africa and Colombia.” (UNODC and International Organization for Migration Sign Agreement for Closer Cooperation, supra; Cooperation Agreement Between the United Nations and the International Organization for Migration (June 25, 1996).)

The new agreement also supplements joint cooperative activities with other international bodies, such as the Global Migration Group, the Inter-Agency Coordination Group Against Trafficking in Persons, and the U.N. Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking. (Id.; see also Wendy Zeldin, United Nations: Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons,GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Dec. 6, 2011) [on a UNODC/UNHCR MOU].)

The UNODC is self-described as the only U.N. entity focused on the criminal justice element of the crimes of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants. The underpinnings of its work in this area are the U.N. Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols on trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling. (United Nations Convention Against Transnational Crime and the Protocols Thereto, UNODC website (last visited Apr. 19, 2012).) The UNODC has available on its website a Human Trafficking Case Law Database (UNODC website (last visited Apr. 19, 2012)).

The IOM, established in 1951, has 146 Member States and 13 observer states. According to its website, it “is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners, … dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all,” which it does “by providing services and advice to governments and migrants.” (About IOM, IOM website (last visited Apr. 19, 2012).) The IOM has compiled and made available on its website a database of international, regional, and national legal instruments on migration. (Migration Law Database, IOM website (last visited Apr. 19, 2012).)