Asia-Pacific Strengthens Cooperation on Irregular Movement of Persons

UNHCR20 August 2013: Thirteen countries in the Asia-Pacific region have agreed to cooperate further to address the irregular movement of people in the region, including by working together to prevent and detect cases of human trafficking and people smuggling, protect asylum seekers and refugees, and prosecute traffickers and smugglers.

Ministers and senior officials from Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar/Burma, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand endorsed the Jakarta Declaration on Addressing Irregular Movement of Persons at the close of a half-day conference organized by the Government of Indonesia along with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The Declaration recognizes the need for common responses to the issue of irregular movement of persons, including irregular maritime movements. The Declaration affirms the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime, and urges countries to ratify and implement the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.

Volker Türk, UNHCR, affirmed existing regional cooperation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and proposed establishing a Group of Eminent Persons to frame responses to the issue of irregular movement of people. He suggested organizing temporary stay arrangements that permit access to employment while cases are processed, and offered UNHCR's help to countries, including providing mobile protection teams to situations of rescue at sea. [UNHCR Press Release] [Jakarta Declaration] [UNHCR Remarks]