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Second Joint Declaration signed by Mekong Governments to combat human trafficking

( UNIAP) - Senior policy makers from the six governments of the Greater Mekong Sub-region met in Hanoi for the 8 th Senior Officials Meeting and 3 rd Inter Ministerial Meeting of the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking (COMMIT).


The theme was Sustained Unity and Cooperation, with delegates convening to assess the collective progress made in the fight against human trafficking, share good practices, and raise critical issues to be addressed in the coming year. During the inter-ministerial meeting that took place February 14 to 16, ministers from the six COMMIT countries signed the second Joint Declaration of COMMIT, reaffirming their commitment to eradicating all forms of human trafficking in the region.


COMMIT is a multi-lateral agreement and process undertaken by the governments of Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, designed to formulate and implement strategies addressing human trafficking from a regional perspective. The COMMIT process began in 2004 with the signing of a ministerial Memorandum of Understanding, and is now into its Third Sub-regional Plan of Action.


"COMMIT is a unique and creative process initiated by the governments of the six Greater Mekong Sub-region countries in tackling human trafficking through a platform of high-level policy dialogue, and linking the regional response through individual national plans of action," said Police Lieutenant General Pham Quy Ngo, Vice Minister of the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security.


"Since its launch in 2004, I am delighted to note that the COMMIT process has gone from strength to strength. COMMIT has been recognized as a global best practice," remarked the United Nations Resident Coordinator of Vietnam, Ms Pratibha Mehta.


Over 160 participants attended the SOM, including delegations from each member country, international human trafficking experts, partner agencies, non-governmental  organizations, the United Nations, and Embassy representatives.


Senior officials reviewed the achievements made during the Second Sub-regional Plan of Action (2008-2010), which included the implementation of over 350 initiatives and activities in areas such as law enforcement training, awareness raising, victim protection and bilateral cooperation agreements.


Also reviewed were lessons learned and challenges met in 2011, during implementation of the Third Sub-regional Plan of Action (2011-2013). Key topics discussed included improving cross-border collaboration in the criminal justice sector, the effectiveness of reintegration assistance to trafficked persons, and good practice in community-level trafficking prevention programs.


"The Senior Official Meeting and Inter Ministerial Meeting provides an opportunity for senior level policy makers to exchange information with their counterparts and develop priorities for the future through a multilateral and multiagency approach," said Matt Friedman, United Nations Inter-agency Project on Human Trafficking Program Manager and COMMIT Secretariat.


UNIAP manages the COMMIT process through their role as COMMIT Secretariat.