The Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime

Tuesday, 06 Sep 2022

Shared lessons and progress in tackling irregular migration in the Asia Pacific: the Bali Process 20 years on

Bali Process Member States working together to tackle irregular migration across the Asia Pacific came together over 7-8 September 2022, to reflect on the learning and progress they have engendered in the region – and looking ahead to future challenges where ongoing cooperation and dialogue will be vital.

Key areas of focus for the Asia Pacific region today include ongoing challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and challenges and needs imposed by the scale of the displacement of refugees from prolonged political and armed crises in the region.

With expert stakeholders gathered in one place for the first time since the pandemic, the anniversary event helped to tunnel down to understand how best to facilitate international cooperation with the Bali Process and practicalities to consider, when building on, and moving new initiatives and frameworks forwards:

Building on progress: 20 years on 

Delegates attending from member states represented law and human rights, immigration, national security and defence, business and employment, as well as member UN bodies – to share examples of practical initiatives, resources and tools developed with the support of the RSO.

Over the course of the two days, as well as hearing from a range of speakers, delegates worked together in small groups – centred geographically – to discuss the main issues and priorities facing the Asia Pacific region.  

Shared concerns and areas of focus included:

  • Visa management strategy – including detection of fraud and counterfeit documents
  • Public awareness and information campaigns
  • Capacity building and training for frontliners and immigration officers – i.e. passenger assessment for airlines
  • Opportunities and risks enabled through technology

Member states helped to describe where the RSO could focus efforts to best support capacity building and effectiveness of response across the region. The wealth of detail that we were able to establish through discussion will help to inform continued work to refine and update the RSO’s work plan and where we prioritise efforts:

  • Supporting Member States by equipping with knowledge/oversight on regional problems and mechanisms       
  • Strengthening awareness and access to funding and training opportunities
  • Continuing to enable discussions about root causes and evolving push/pull factors for irregular migration – i.e. climate change, regional instability, unemployment 
  • Support to forward prepare for irregular migration – including identification process, protection needs, and preventive measures
  • Ongoing review of Bali Process and RSO strategy and priorities as crime types evolve – maritime smuggling, air, and land trafficking, forced surrogacy, begging, online recruitment/scams, catfishing
  • Carry out research on corruption in recruitment – including complicity of government officials in the recruitment of workers or use of recruitment agencies)  

Dialogue and cooperation

Increased dialogue and cooperation across the region, as harnessed by participation in the Bali Process, aims to make tackling challenges around irregular migration, trafficking in persons, and people smuggling more effective and impactful.

2022 marks the 20th anniversary of the Bali Process and the 10th anniversary of the Regional Support Office of the Bali Process (RSO), and this roundtable provided an important opportunity to facilitate discussion and capability-building.

Pak Sukmo Yuwono, Co-manager of the RSO (Indonesia) said: This year marks the 20th year of the Bali Process and the 10th year for the RSO. I expect further strengthening and cooperation between Member States to tackle irregular migration, human smuggling and trafficking, facilitating conversations and collaboration to tackle this issues.

David Scott, Co-manager of the RSO (Australia) said: It was extremely helpful to come together with and hear from Member States on their main priorities and concerns – particularly in light of the additional challenges colleagues are grappling with in a changed landscape post Covid-19. We have developed an ambitious forward work plan for the RSO and we look forward to continuing to work closely with colleagues – to ensure timely, appropriate and impactful input which enable them to best deliver effective responses to regional crises and needs.

For live updates from the event, follow the Regional Support Office of the Bali Process on Twitter @baliprocessRSO and look out for further updates on our website.