In Focus

2021 Maltese Chairmanship of the ICMPD Steering Group: Senior experts discuss enhancing cooperation to counter migrant smuggling

06 December 2021

On 1 December 2021, ICMPD and the Republic of Malta, in its capacity as 2021 Chair of the ICMPD Steering Group, organised a webinar to explore possible ways of strengthening international cooperation to combat migrant smuggling. The aim of the meeting, which brought together senior experts from ICMPD, the Malta Police Force, EU institutions (Europol, European Commission), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and academia, was to discuss cooperation within the context of a renewed EU Action Plan against Migrant Smuggling (2021-2025). 

Throughout the discussion, panellists engaged in a fruitful exchange of experiences on how to increase the effectiveness of international cooperation in combatting migrant smuggling while also responding to the needs of migrants. It was highlighted that:​​​​​​​

  • Human smuggling is not just a European challenge but also a global one, requiring a global response that encompasses cooperation across agencies and borders.
  • Smuggling networks have rapidly adapted to changing circumstances during the pandemic, putting measures in place to ensure their business continuity. In addition, ICT has enabled and altered smuggling operations, and has changed government responses.
  • Multiple areas of focus are necessary to counteract migrant smuggling, including comprehensive cooperation frameworks along migration routes to and within the EU, agile responses for eradicating criminal groups and protecting the lives of migrants.
  • Data are critical for fostering situational awareness, understanding trends and developing evidence-based policies.

This meeting was organised within the framework of the 2021 Maltese Chairmanship of the ICMPD Steering Group, which is focussing on the overarching topic of "Redefining migration partnerships". During its Chairmanship, Malta delves into the ways in which cooperation on migration can be redefined to ensure win-win situations and nurture truly beneficial and sustainable relationships. The discussion also reflects ICMPD’s 2021 Annual Policy Initiative, “Whole-of-route approaches to countering irregular migration. Where are we now and what comes next?”