Press Releases


    27 January 2004

    Landmark United Nations Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants Enters into Force

    VIENNA, 27 January (UN Information Service) -- The Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea, supplementary to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, will enter into force on 28 January 2004. It is a landmark for the fight against the smuggling of migrants and another milestone to the global effort to combat transnational organized crime.

    This Protocol provides the international community with new tools to confront the smuggling of migrants. It defines the smuggling of migrants as “the procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, of the illegal entry of a person into a State Party of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident.” (Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol).

    This tool has been designed to strengthen the international community’s response in countering transnational organized crime groups and their highly sophisticated networks to smuggle migrants, exploiting human misery and making sizeable criminal profits in the process.

    The Protocol aims to criminalize the smuggling of migrants and those who practise it, while recognizing that illegal migration itself is not a crime and that migrants are often victims needing protection. Under the Protocol, governments agree to make migrant smuggling a criminal offence under national laws, adopt special measures to crack down on migrant smuggling by sea, boost international cooperation to prevent migrant smuggling, and seek out and prosecute offenders. States party to the Protocol agree to adopt domestic laws to prevent and suppress activities related to the smuggling of migrants. The Protocol is furthermore an important international instrument in the area of international cooperation on criminal justice matters following the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which entered into force on 29 September 2003, and its Protocol against Trafficking in Persons, which entered into force on 25 December 2003.

    On 22 December 2003 the General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/58/135 on international cooperation in the fight against transnational organized crime welcomed the entry into force of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The General Assembly also adopted resolutions to combat trafficking in drugs and in persons, and to strengthen international crime prevention efforts.

    The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) provides technical assistance to Member States in order to support the implementation and ratification process. As of 20 January 2004 the Protocol was signed by 112 Member States and ratified by forty States. These are: Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Ecuador, France, Gambia, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Lao’s People’s Democratic Republic, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Namibia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Spain, Tajikistan, Tunisia, and Turkey.

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