UN-ACT is happy to launch its 2014 Annual Report, outlining progress across all Output areas; cross-cutting issues including human rights and gender; constraints in implementation; as well as the way forwards for 2015 and beyond.
Here some highlights from 9 months of Project implementation:
A key objective for UN-ACT is to ensure that the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking (COMMIT) becomes sustainable and self-reliant, including by governments taking over the Secretariat functions that UN-ACT and previously UNIAP have fulfilled. Initial steps towards this result under Output 1 were taken during the reporting period, most notably in China where the government took over both funding and administrative functions for several COMMIT activities.
2014 also marked the last year of the COMMIT Sub-regional Plan of Action (SPA) III and the development of the next SPA. SPA IV was drafted through an extensive, participatory process that set new standards for inclusivity and participation in COMMIT. The plan is based on a results framework, which will considerably increase the opportunities to hold governments accountable for their implementation.
Under Output 2 on wider regional cooperation, UN-ACT established a regional network with more than 20 organisations engaged in anti-trafficking work in the GMS and beyond. The regional network meets quarterly to discuss trends in trafficking, foster mutual learning and develop joint activities. Discussions were also initiated with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and with Malaysia as a key destination country outside of COMMIT as well as the incoming chair in ASEAN, on cooperation with COMMIT and possible support from UN-ACT in 2015.
Under Output 3 on increased access to knowledge on human trafficking, two research reports were finalized on trafficking patterns from Cambodia and Lao PDR to Thailand, respectively. New research was also launched on trafficking for forced marriage from Cambodia to China. A new website was set up for UN-ACT with a related Facebook page and twitter account to reach audiences interested in anti-trafficking efforts.
Finally, under Output 4, a call for proposals for a small-grants fund was launched to support civil society engagement in the collective fight against human trafficking, and more than 30 proposals were received.
Enjoy reading the full report, and we look forward to the years ahead working in partnership with key anti-trafficking stakeholders in the GMS and beyond to effectively counter human trafficking in the sub-region.
Human trafficking is one of the gravest forms of human rights abuses, whereby people are deceived or coerced into severe forms of exploitation. It affects more than 20 million women, men and children around the world. The Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS: Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand & Viet Nam) features some of the most extensive patterns of human trafficking, characterized by a strong cross-border dimension due to factors such as cultural linkages, traditional migration trends, long and porous borders, significant imbalances in socio-economic development levels, and at times conflict.
The cross-border nature of human trafficking in the sub-region makes a joint, regional response imperative, and the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking (COMMIT) is precisely this. Founded in 2004, COMMIT brings together all relevant ministries nationally and regionally around joint work plans in a coordinated effort to counter human trafficking.
Last week, Senior Officials and Ministers (SOM/IMM) were in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to celebrate and reflect upon 10 years of COMMIT, and to discuss and agree on the future path of their anti-trafficking collaboration. Presided over by H.E. Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia, the meeting adopted a fourth Sub-regional Plan of Action (SPAIV) and concluded with the signing of the ‘Third COMMIT Declaration’. SPAIV – a much more results-based and inclusive agreement than any of its predecessors – will guide COMMIT’s work for the next 4 years and specifically invites civil society to engage in both its implementation and monitoring.
In her Special Remarks at the opening of the Senior Officials Meeting, Ms. Caitlin Wiesen, Chief of Regional Policy and Programme Support at the UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub, emphasized the importance of increased government ownership of the COMMIT Process, and pointed out that “the successful model for this process begins with governments leading the way, including through self-financing where possible, and with the UN and other partners providing support from the background.” Mr. Erik Svedahl, Minister Counsellor from the Norwegian Embassy in Thailand, reiterated these points during his Special Remarks on day 2 of the meeting.
In a major step forward, civil society organisations for the first time had a dedicated session on the SOM/IMM agenda, during which they presented various successful examples of civil society-government cooperation over the past years, and proposed a further expansion of such collaboration. The presentation was well received by delegates, with a number of governments subsequently calling for more institutionalised civil society involvement in COMMIT. Ms. Anna Maj Hultgård, Swedish Ambassador to Cambodia, in her Special Remarks at the opening of the Inter-Ministerial Meeting on day 3 also emphasized the importance of civil society in anti-trafficking. She highlighted that “Sweden is a strong believer that civil society organizations are key actors for governments to work with, to listen to and to discuss challenges with. Through their inclusion, results may also be more sustainable.”
28 youth representatives chosen by their peers in all 6 GMS countries reported back on their work at the Regional COMMIT Youth Forum and presented illustrations of their creative ideas for trafficking prevention campaigns.…