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IOM and UNODC release new guidance to help combat human trafficking through data 

The International Classification Standard for Trafficking in Persons Administrative Data (ICS-TIP) and its accompanying guidance manual, Making each case count © UNODC
The International Classification Standard for Trafficking in Persons Administrative Data (ICS-TIP) and its accompanying guidance manual, Making each case count © UNODC

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have today published the first global technical guidance for administrative data on trafficking in persons.     

An acute lack of quality evidence and research for the development of national policies and programmes to combat human trafficking is a major setback facing Governments and other counter-trafficking actors in mobilizing evidence to inform targeted interventions.     

This is largely due to the lack of available data on human trafficking, which is a complex, clandestine crime designed to be undetected. Where data on human trafficking do exist, the data sources are often diverse, mostly disconnected and limited in scope, creating silos and leading to fragmented knowledge.    

Through the International Classification Standard for Trafficking in Persons Administrative Data (ICS-TIP) and its accompanying guidance manual, Making each case count, IOM and UNODC aim to support governments and other counter-trafficking stakeholders to address these challenges.    

The first working draft of the ICS-TIP promotes a common approach for national data collection on human trafficking. The guidance will support governments to collect and analyse high quality, internationally-comparable data, which can be used to significantly enhance the evidence base for the response to trafficking in persons.    

The development of the new standards and guidance has been undertaken in consultation with anti-trafficking experts from international organizations, government agencies, academia and civil society from a wide range of countries.     

Following the piloting and launch of the working draft for anti-trafficking practitioners, IOM and UNODC are submitting the ICS-TIP for further input by, and consultation with, statistical experts and Member State representatives of the UN Statistical Commission, with the hope for the ICS-TIP to be adopted as part of an international measurement framework for trafficking in persons.    

“Without data and evidence, we cannot formulate targeted and effective counter-trafficking policies. Through their day-to-day operations, various counter-trafficking actors collect a wealth of information on the crime; this includes social services, law enforcement and the justice system. It is key to leverage these administrative data in an ethical and standardized way to learn more about trafficking in persons,” points out Monica Goracci, head of IOM’s Department for Programme Support and Migration Management.    

“To prevent human trafficking, we must have better data,” said Angela Me, Chief of UNODC’s Research and Analysis Branch. “The new standards will help governments to monitor trafficking patterns and flows, assess the national response to the human trafficking problem, and shape informed interventions to stop this heinous crime.”    

IOM and UNODC are actively training government counterparts on this standardized approach, including four regional trainings for African countries in cooperation with the African Union Institute for Statistics (STATAFRIC).    

"The ICS-TIP has proved extremely useful as a tool to help create a common understanding of trafficking in persons and how to collect data on it among African Union Member States. We have also used it to support regional questionnaires to gather information on the crime,” explains Samson Bel-Aube Nougbodohoue, from STATAFRIC.   

IOM and UNODC will continue to support Member States and other stakeholders to produce and analyse high-quality administrative data on trafficking in persons.   

This initiative was generously funded by the IOM Development Fund, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands (BZ) through their generous contribution to the COMPASS Programme and the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. The contents are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IOM Development Fund, BZ or the U.S. government.  

For more information or to share feedback, please contact:   

Claire Galez-Davis, Data Scientist at IOM’s Protection Division, Email:    

Fabrizio Sarrica, Team Leader, Research on Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (RAB) at UNODC, Email: