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Trafficking in persons is a crime and grave human rights violation affecting men, women and children all around the world, in peace, as well as in conflict and disaster settings.  

IOM works closely with governments, civil society organizations, international organizations, and the private sector to combat trafficking in persons. This includes support to strengthen policies and procedures to facilitate the identification, referral, protection and assistance of trafficked persons; improvements to anti-trafficking legislation and regulations and their implementation; and advisory services to private sector entities aiming to eliminate exploitation from their operations and supply chains. IOM and its partners have provided assistance to over 100,000 victims of trafficking (VoTs) since 1999.   

IOM recognizes that counter-trafficking is one of its earliest specialized protection areas of work (dating back to the late 80's) that laid the foundation for most of the protection work that the organization carries out today, including, notably, counter-trafficking in crisis (since 2015). Therefore, IOM is committed to keeping counter-trafficking at the center of its protection portfolio as it works to improve and expand its programming in protection. 

Theory of Change

Assessing its decades of experience, IOM has developed its counter-trafficking theory of change to support the design and implementation of programming that is tested. Through it, IOM explored the different risk factors that can lead to trafficking and the ways in which IOM is best placed to intervene, identifying eight key areas: Case-management, Capacity-development for service provision and protection, Referral system strengthening, Strengthening of private sector responses, Promotion of ethical recruitment, Capacity-development of justice systems, Law and policy development, Research and data collection/management. 

IOM's counter-trafficking theory of change aims to:

  • Contribute to improvements in the health, safety and well-being of people who have been trafficked
  • Strengthen the prevention and protection measures for people at risk of trafficking to delivering better results focusing on the victims and develop more robust evidence

  • Help governments, the private sector and civil society enhance their prevention and protection responses to counter-trafficking

Counter-trafficking in Emergencies

IOM carries out crisis response operations on a global scale, to address the needs of affected populations who are in a particularly vulnerable situation as well as those who have been trafficked and ensure a survivor-centered and gender-sensitive approach from the onset of a crisis. IOM recognizes that the risks of trafficking are heightened in emergency contexts, therefore, it considers counter-trafficking in emergencies lifesaving and core to humanitarian programming and works towards addressing this issue before, during, and after a crisis. The Organization works within the humanitarian community to mitigate the risk of trafficking and to ensure that counter-trafficking considerations are embedded into humanitarian coordination structures and responses through deployment of counter-trafficking in crisis experts.

The Organization also brings humanitarian and development actors together, building on their capacities to better respond to the needs of victims of trafficking. Through data collection, monitoring and analysis for policymaking and programming IOM supports the development of context-specific tools and advocacy.


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