Palermo Protocols

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What are the Palermo Protocols? And why are they important?

The United Nations plays an important role in combating human trafficking. Their impact is mainly due to their ability to pull together massive resources along with being able to offer funding from some of the world’s wealthiest countries. The UN is also important in supporting smaller NGOs that rely on them to make recommendations to governments, address the international courts, and tailor rational international laws relating to a wide range of areas. In 2000, the UN adopted three protocols to “fight against transnational organized crime and signifies the recognition by Member States of the seriousness of the problems posed by it, as well as the need to foster and enhance close international cooperation in order to tackle those problems.” 

The first, The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, has been developed for a few different reasons. According to UNODC, this protocol is meant to “facilitate convergence in national approaches with regard to the establishment of domestic criminal offences that would support efficient international cooperation in investigating and prosecuting trafficking in persons cases. An additional objective of the Protocol is to protect and assist the victims of trafficking in persons with full respect for their human rights.”

In layman’s terms, it’s meant to help the international community work together to arrest and prosecute perpetrators through collaboration while at the same time offering governments a guideline on how to protect and assist victims of trafficking.

The second, The Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, relates to smuggling specifically. UNODC, says that this protocol “aims at preventing and combating the smuggling of migrants, as well as promoting cooperation among States parties, while protecting the rights of smuggled migrants and preventing the worst forms of their exploitation which often characterize the smuggling process.”

The third, The Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition was created “promote, facilitate and strengthen cooperation among States Parties in order to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition.”
Essentially, the treaty was drafted in order to regulate who produces firearms around the world, how governments build these firearms, and where they are sent or sold.

Since we were founded to strategically address the issue of sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation, we are primarily interested in Protocol 1. Cooperation of states and their governments, NGOs and civil society is essential in targeting transnational organized crime that profit from trafficking and enslaving people. But it’s also important to note that migration and smuggling plays a large part in the work we do, too. Many of our clients from Laos or Myanmar have signed up for what they thought was a job only to be exploited and sold for sex or labor. Protecting their rights and preventing trafficking is made possible today because of groundbreaking agreements like the Palermo Protocols.

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