By Gervais Appave. Special Policy Adviser to the Director-General, on the new Joint Platform

This initiative is the result of a growing concern about the tremendous loss of life among migrants leaving their countries to reach a new country of destination.

In 2017 alone IOM has recorded 6142 fatalities worldwide among migrants, including refugees and asylum-seekers, who have died or gone missing in the process of migration.

Worryingly, the true number of deaths is thought to be significantly higher than our estimates. Many bodies are never found and many missing persons are never reported.

Looking towards the future, the evidence is not encouraging. Just in the three first months of 2018 we have already registered a number of 779 fatalities.

The scale of the tragedy is undeniable; so is the vicious role played by smugglers in its unfolding. Unscrupulous smugglers recruited and misinformed migrants, moved them across international borders irregularly and endangered their lives. Their business and criminal model needs to be dismantled.

This Platform builds upon existing collaboration between the 2 UN organizations and strives to deepen this cooperation by leveraging their complementary expertise.

Working jointly, the two organizations can address migrant smuggling challenges in a comprehensive manner: they can design responses that combine law enforcement and border management policies with protection, prevention and migration management policies.

While IOM and UNODC play an important role in the functioning and setup of this structure, the Joint Platform also acts as an incubator for collaborative projects bringing together other interested parties.

Practitioners, researchers and policy makers working in different capacities on counter migrant smuggling- be it in states, UN agencies, IOs, academic institutions—can contribute to and benefit from the platform.

There are a number of Regional Consultative Processes that directly or indirectly address the issue of migrant smuggling, such as the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime (Bali Process) or the EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative (Khartoum Process).[1]

Both IOM and UNODC are members and observers in these processes which are critical to forging understanding and cooperation on migration between States.

The Platform is not seeking to replicate such mechanisms - those are state-led processes - but to strengthen and globally disseminate their technical expertise, policy guidance, research, capacity building and targeted project initiatives.

[1] Other examples: Almaty Process on Refugee Protection and International Migration, Budapest Process (the Silk Routes Partnership for Migration), Prague Process.