The UN agencies dealing with fighting crime and aiding refugees signed a joint agreement [text, PDF] on Tuesday to work more closely to combat migrant smuggling and human trafficking [JURIST news archive]. The memorandum, signed by Yury Fedotov, the executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) [official websites] pledged [UN News Centre report] to coordinate the two agencies' resources to better target criminals involved in human trafficking. Speaking at the memorandum signing in New York, Fedotov praised [press release] the agreement:
UNODC's mandate in combating organized crime is complementary to UNHCR's work of protecting refugees. As we have often seen with human trafficking and migrant smuggling, criminals prey on society's most vulnerable. Refugees, in search of a better life, can become victims of these criminals and it's important that we offer coordinated assistance to those who need it the most.The agreement is intended to accomplish the dual goals of prosecuting human traffickers and providing protection to their victims. Guterres also called on the international community to increase their efforts in fighting global human trafficking.
Human trafficking has become an increasingly scrutinized issue in recent years, both in the US and abroad. In August, the UN Special Rapporteur on human trafficking urged Thailand [JURIST report] to crack down on human trafficking, especially with regard to children subjected to sexual and labor exploitation. In September 2010, the US Department of Justice [official website] brought charges [JURIST report] against six people in the largest US case of human trafficking. In June 2010, the UNODC issued a memorandum [text, PDF] that human trafficking is becoming a major problem in Europe [JURIST report]. Also that month, the US State Department [official website] released its annual report [text, pdf] on human trafficking, concluding [JURIST report] that the US has a "serious problem with human trafficking, both for labor and commercial sexual exploitation."