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National Workshop to Review Burma's Draft National Plan of Action to Combat Human Trafficking

August 17, 2007

From 22 to 23 March 2007, a national workshop to review Burma's draft National Plan of Action to Combat Human Trafficking was held in Naypyitaw.

Organized by the Myanmar Ministry of Home Affairs with the support of UNIAP, the workshop brought together government officials from 24 ministries and departments, as well as UN agencies, international and national NGOs and other stakeholders in the fight against human trafficking.  The workshop marked the culmination of the development of the National Plan of Action, which was undertaken by the Burmese government in accordance with PPC 3 of the COMMIT Sub-regional Plan of Action (SPA), which calls for the development of National Plans of Action.

In the preamble to the National Plan of Action (NPA), it states that the NPA was developed to meet three objectives: firstly, to implement prevention, prosecution, protection and rehabilitation activities effectively, secondly to cooperate and strengthen activities among related ministries, organizations, INGOs, NGOs and the private sector, and thirdly to strengthen cooperation with regional and international agencies in combating transnational trafficking.  To this end, the proposed NPA is divided into five substantive areas: 1) policy and cooperation, 2) prevention, 3) prosecution, 4) protection, and 5) capacity-building.

The NPA covers a five year period, from 2007 to 2011.  While the plan sets out broad goals under each of its components, it also calls for annual workplans to be developed with specific targets.  A National Task Force will be formed to monitor implementation of the NPA, with the responsibility of preparing a quarterly progress report on implementation to the Central Body for the Suppression of Trafficking in Persons, the highest government body dealing with trafficking, chaired by the Minister of Home Affairs and including deputy ministers and senior officials from 22 government departments.  The Central Body will report implementation progress to the government on an annual basis.

Drafting of the NPA had begun in March 2006, with a meeting attended by 15 government departments and ministries that agreed on the formation of a technical working group charged with developing the draft NPA.  During 2006, the technical working group held frequent meetings and sought technical inputs from all relevant government departments.  The Ministry of Home Affairs, as the lead ministry on human trafficking, consolidated responses and coordinated the drafting process.  UNIAP supported the process by engaging a national consultant to review NPAs of other countries in the region, to learn from their experiences and incorporate best practices into the draft of the Burmese plan.

The March review meeting was an opportunity for non-government stakeholders to provide their input to the plan.  Among the participating organizations were UNICEF, IOM, ARTIP, UNIAP, Save the Children, World Vision, AFXB and representatives from the Japanese and Australian embassies.  Dr. Susu Thatun, Senior Advisor to the COMMIT process, also jointed the NPA review meeting in Naypyitaw to facilitate the discussions and offer additional inputs.  Similarly, several of the organizations working in Burma had invited colleagues from the regional level to participate in the discussions, reflecting the high value placed on the meeting by all participants.

Chaired by the Chief of Police, the meeting reviewed both the National Plan of Action as well as the 2007-08 workplan. While all organizations present at the meeting expressed their strong support for the NPA, the meeting entailed a lot of discussion on technical details and suggestions on how to strengthen the provisions of the NPA to ensure that it attains its goals.  With government departments, UN organizations and local and international NGOs all working together to strengthen the NPA, progress was already being made on one of the objectives of the plan – for stronger collaboration between the different stakeholders.

After two days and one evening dinner filled with discussions, a range of valuable technical input had been provided.  The Ministry of Home Affairs is now working with other relevant government ministries and departments to finalize the National Plan of Action and begin implementation.  UN agencies and INGOs have expressed their readiness to work with the government in supporting the implementation of the NPA.  While the NPA will provide a coordinating framework to bring together the many strands of the anti-trafficking response in Burma, its value also lies in the emphasis it places on a coordinated and collaborative response.  The open discussions and willingness of all parties to work together in implementing the NPA thus were a promising sign for the future of this framework.

Adapted from: "A Platform for Collaboration: Government departments, UN agencies, INGOs and stakeholders meet to review Myanmar's draft National Plan of Action on Human Trafficking." UNIAP China. August 2007.

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