ACP-EU Migration Programme Meets to Counter Human Trafficking, Migrant Smuggling

Guyana - IOM is kicking off a three-day inter-regional meeting today (21/03) in Georgetown, Guyana focusing on trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants.

The “Peer-to-Peer Exchange Meeting” brings together 70 delegates and experts from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States and from the European Union (EU) to look at the most effective means to counter both phenomena at the local, regional and global levels.

“This is an excellent opportunity to learn from the experiences of experts from these three regions in preventing and responding to both trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling, including protection of victims and migrants who have suffered human rights abuses,” said IOM’s Rosilyne Borland, who will be facilitating the event. 

Both trafficking in human beings and migrant smuggling are highly profitable businesses that exploit people and involve transnational criminal networks. They are also very hard to be traced by the authorities. Trafficking and smuggling are defined as two distinct crimes within the United Nations Trans-crime Convention and related protocols. Trafficking in Human Beings is a crime against an individual while Smuggling of Migrants is a crime against a state. 

“It must be understood, however, that in spite of this difference, states usually have the same cadre of officials dealing with both issues,” said IOM’s Agueda Marin, Regional Thematic Specialist for counter-trafficking in human beings.

Running through Thursday (23/03), this is the second peer-to-peer exchange meeting organized for stakeholders under IOM’s “ACP-EU Migration Action” programme. The meetings are designed to provide an interactive forum to exchange challenges, lessons learned, and good practices identified to date in the implementation of the programme. They will also build on the recommendations spelled out on the ACP-EU Dialogue documents.

Three of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed by UN Member States in September 2015 make specific reference to ending trafficking in human beings.

UN agencies working in the fields of counter-trafficking and counter-smuggling of migrants are participating in the meeting and will contribute to drafting concrete recommendations to the ACP-EU Dialogue to reach the targets set out in the SDGs. Representatives from UN Women, UNODC and UNICEF will speak to the issues of eliminating all forms of violence against all women and girls in public and private spheres (SDG 5.2), ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children (SDG 16.2), and ending modern slavery and human trafficking (target 8.7).

IOM’s ACP-EU Migration Action, launched in June 2014, provides tailored technical support on migration to countries in all ACP regions. To date it has received 58 technical assistance requests from 44 ACP governments and 5 regional organizations. A third of these requests directly concern either counter-trafficking or counter-smuggling activities, with all of them touching the targets set up in the SDGs in one way or another.

The programme is financed by the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) and supported by the ACP Secretariat and the EU. 

In 2010, the ACP Group of States and the European Union agreed on a Joint Declaration on Migration and Development that was endorsed by the ACP-EU Council in June 2010. In the declaration the parties committed to strengthen and deepen cooperation in the Governance of migration and coordination of dialogue built on strategies to address irregular migration, enable regular migration, and migration and development, including issues related to counter-trafficking in persons and counter-smuggling of migrants.

Future peer-to-peer meetings will be held on other areas covered by the programme, such as visas and readmission. 

For further information, please contact the ACP-EU Migration Action at the IOM Regional Office in Brussels, Tel: +32 2 287 78 10, Email:, Web: