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Human Rights and the New UN Protocols on Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling: A Preliminary Analysis by Anne Gallagher

In December 1998, the United Nations General Assembly established an intergovernmental, ad-hoc committee and charged it with developing a new international legal regime to fight transnational organized crime. In October 2000, after eleven sessions involving participation from more than 120 states, the ad-hoc committee concluded its work. The centerpiece of the new regime is the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, supplemented by additional treaties (protocols), dealing respectively with Smuggling of Migrants, Trafficking in Persons – Especially Women and Children, and Trafficking in Firearms. The first three of these instruments were adopted by the General Assembly in November 2007 and opened for signature in December 2000. The significance of these developments should not be underestimated. The Vienna process, as it has come to be known, represented the first serious attempt by the international community to invoke the weapon of international law in its battle against transnational organized crime. Perhaps even more notable was the selection of the highly politicized issues of trafficking and migrant smuggling as the subjects of additional agreements. This article provides an overview of the Vienna Process and its outcomes with particular reference to the issue of trafficking in persons. It summarizes the principal provisions of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and explains the connection between this instrument and its protocols. The origins of the trafficking and migrant smuggling protocols are then examined and each instrument is described and analyzed in detail. The Article concludes with a first-hand account of the negotiations – providing an insight into the competing interests that drove the drafting process and that ultimately determined its outcome.

Human Rights and the New UN Protocols 

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