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ICLAIM’s participation in the Constructive Dialogue on the Smuggling of Migrants

ICLAIM’s participation in the Constructive Dialogue on the Smuggling of Migrants

On the 9 October 2023, ICLAIM participated in the second meeting of the Constructive Dialogue on the Smuggling of Migrants. The event was held in hybrid form, in Vienna and online. The meeting took place immediately after the conclusion of the tenth meeting of the Working Group on the Smuggling of Migrants. Significantly, the meeting was attended by 40 non-governmental organisations, as well as other relevant stakeholders, including members states, academia, and the private sector.

The purpose of the constructive dialogues is to promote fruitful engagement among participants, as well as to inform them on developments concerning the UNTOC review mechanism. At the same time, the constructive dialogues are premised on the meaningful exchange of views, whereby inputs and suggestions are collected from participants, including their contributions as to the ways of advancing the effective implementation of the UN Conventions Against Transnational Crimes (UNTOC) and its three Protocols.

The constructive dialogue was chaired by the co-chairs of the Working Group, Ms. Vasiliki Kakosimou (Greece) and Mr. Francesco Testa (Italy). The co-chairs briefed participants on the status of the review process and as well as the outcomes of the tenth meeting of the Working Group, that was held in Vienna from 5 to 6 October 2023. A total of sixteen recommendations were agreed upon by the Working Group and forwarded to the Conference of the Parties for consideration and adoption (see Working Group report). The co-chairs’ briefing was followed by a panel discussion with representatives of non-governmental organisations. The panel topics aligned with the recommendations of the Working Group, namely: 1) ‘developments, challenges and best practices in preventing and combatting the smuggling of migrants at sea’; and 2) ‘determining who to charge with the crime of migrant smuggling – who is and who isn’t a migrant smuggler’. Following the panel discussion, participants to the constructive dialogue were given the opportunity to take the floor to share their own views and experiences. Of particular interest was the need to differentiate between smuggling of migrants and human trafficking and the inherent challenges of doing so in an effective manner in practice.

Lastly, the participants were invited to reflect on their activities and technical assistance needs as a means of improving the implementation of the Convention and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants.  The co-chairs steered interventions from participants based on three set agenda items: a) the role of civil society in the universalisation and implementation of the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants; b) State Parties’ technical assistance needs and related civil society engagement/participation; and c) gender, human rights and victim-centred approaches to countering organised crime, in particular the smuggling of migrants. Discussions highlighted among others the need for capacity building on the national level, complemented by closer international collaboration among key stakeholders, namely, States parties and non-governmental organisations. At the same time, the need for a victim-centred and gender-responsive approach was referred during the discussions as a means of promoting an inclusive and sustainable response to organised crime, in particular the smuggling of migrants.

Concluding, ICLAIM’s growing expertise and research on criminal activities, primarily human trafficking and smuggling, together with its close cooperation with the public and private sector, the academia, and other relevant stakeholders, are of direct relevance to the ongoing efforts to enhance the impact of the UNTOC and its Protocols, as well as in terms of providing meaningful assistance and support to the national authorities in the context of the UNTOC Review Mechanism.