United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
United Nations Headquarters. DC1 Building. Room 613. One United Nations Plaza. New York, NY 10017. USA
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is mandated to assist Member States In their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development draws together the strands of peace, the rule of law, human rights, development and equality into a comprehensive and forward-looking framework. Reducing conflict, crime, violence, discrimination, and ensuring inclusion and good governance, are key elements of people’s well-being and essential for securing sustainable development. UNODC helps Member States to strengthen legislative, judicial and health systems to better safeguard their populations, especially the most vulnerable groups. Its work on preventing and addressing violence against women and promoting access to justice is part of its mandate to strengthen the rule of law through the prevention of crime and the promotion of effective, fair, humane and accountable criminal justice systems in line with the UN standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice.
UNODC’s policy framework for addressing violence against women is contained in the following documents: (i) General Assembly resolution “Crime prevention and criminal justice measures to eliminate violence against women” (52/86); (ii) General Assembly resolution 48/104 (adopting the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women); (iii) General Assembly resolution 65/228 (adopting the Updated Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice;(iv) General Assembly resolution 65/229 (adopting United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules)); (v) Economic and Social Council resolution “Guidelines on Justice in Matters involving Child Victims and Witnesses of Crime” (2005/20), which is pertinent to girls; (vi) Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; and General Assembly resolutions on taking action against gender-related killing of women and girls (A/Res/68/191 and A/Res/70/176).
Areas of Focus
UNODC works to prevent and address violence against women and human trafficking , as well as to develop policies in support of women victims of violence, and women in prisons. UNODC integrates gender dimensions and the question of violence against women into its efforts to build the capacity of criminal justice systems. UNODC also assists Member States in addressing specific vulnerabilities of women and children who fall into the hands of smugglers.
UNODC offers assistance in strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice system responses to violence against women. Such responses include more efficient laws and policies and enhanced capacity of criminal justice systems to prevent, investigate, prosecute and punish related crimes, to provide access to justice and legal aid and to assist and protect victims and witnesses. UNODC provides legal and policy advice, training and capacity building to Member States upon request.
The Office supports and undertakes research related to trafficking in persons, including on the nature of trafficking and national and regional responses to trafficking. UNODC implements technical assistance projects, produces and disseminates public service announcements to counter trafficking in persons, and conducts outreach activities.
Further, UNODC manages the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, that enables the provision of protection, humanitarian and legal assistance to victims of this crime, in particular women and girls who have been sexually exploited. Assistance is provided through a careful selection of projects implemented by specialized, grassroots NGOs worldwide.
- Gender in the Criminal Justice System Assessment Tool (2010). The tool forms part of the Criminal Justice Assessment Toolkit and it addresses inter alia the treatment of survivors of violence against women by the criminal justice system.
- Strengthening Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Responses to Violence against Women (2014). This tool contains an implementation plan for criminal justice systems to prevent and respond to violence against women.
- Handbook on Effective Police Responses to Violence against Women (2010).
- Training Curriculum on Effective Police Responses to Violence against Women (2010).
- Handbook on Effective Prosecution Responses to Violence against Women and Girls (2014).
- Resource Book for Trainers on Effective Prosecution Responses to Violence against Women and Girls (2017).
- Toolkit on Strengthening the Medico-Legal Response to Sexual Violence (2017).
- Gender-Related killing of Women and Girls Brochure (2015).
- Essential services package for women and girls subject to violence (2015).
- A Practitioner's Toolkit on Women's Access to Justice Programming (2018).
- The Bangkok Rules-United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders with their Commentary (2015).
- Handbook on Women and Imprisonment (2014).
- Training curriculum on Women and Imprisonment Version 1.0 (2015).
- Information note for criminal justice practitioners on non-custodial measures for women offenders (2015).
- E-learning course on Alternatives to Imprisonment for Women Offenders.
In Colombia, UNODC developed a guide for a conceptual approach to gender-based violence: legal framework, concepts, routes of attention and recommendations regarding citizen security in the COVID-19 pandemic in Santiago de Cali.
In Pakistan and Myanmar, UNODC coordinated national high-level roundtables to build consensus among different sectors for effective responses to GBV and the delivery of quality essential services for survivors.
In 2020, ICAT published a joint Analytical Review, which assessed, among others, persistent gaps in addressing the gender dimensions of trafficking in persons and identified the necessity to focus prevention efforts on eradicating gendered norms around sexual entitlement, coercion and control that normalize violence and constitutes a part of the continuum of violence against women and girls. ICAT also developed a first-ever Action Plan, which highlights several gender-related follow-up actions.
In the framework of the GLO.ACT project, UNODC undertook a gender and human rights analysis of Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants in Pakistan. UNODC also supported the Afghan National High Commission on Trafficking in Persons in the review and updating of their strategic national action plan to address the root causes and respond to the needs of women and girls.
UNODC worked closely with the CECAW Committee to support the development of the General Recommendation no. 38 on Trafficking in Women and Girls in the Context of Global Migration (i.e. contributed significantly to consultations, organized the regional Expert Group Meeting for Europe, Central Asia and the Balkans, coordinated a separated joint ICAT submission).
Other activities included:
- Support to the 30th Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (May 2021), which adopted a resolution recognizing the "importance of eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation",
- Support towards organizing a Multi-stakeholder Hearing on implementation of the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons (GPA), on 13 July 2021, which discussed topics such as sexual exploitation of women and girls and the principle of non-punishment of victims of trafficking.
- UNODC also coordinated the preparation of a join ICAT submission to the GPA appraisal process, underlining the importance of integrating violence prevention measures aimed to tackle the social norms that promote the commodification of women and children and normalize violence against women and girls.
In the framework of the EU-funded GLO.ACT project, UNODC launched the UNODC Toolkit for Mainstreaming Human Rights and Gender Equality into Criminal Justice Interventions to Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants.
In Iraq, UNODC supported the Women’s Network Advisory Board and a webinar on the ‘control methods of traffickers', which discussed how perpetrators engage in sexual violence and exploitation.
UNODC continued providing capacity building support to Nigeria and launched support to Mozambique to address sexual and gender-based violence committed by terrorist groups, providing training during the period to Nigerian and Mozambican investigators, prosecutors, and judges to support them to bring perpetrators to justice while respecting human rights. These activities were carried out in cooperation with the UN Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict.
UNODC, through its Center of Excellence in Statistical Information on Government, Crime, Victimization and Justice in Mexico, continued to develop a statistical framework for the measurement of gender-related killing of women and girls. Together with UN Women, UNODC launched a Global Consultation on a Common Statistical Framework on Gender-Related Killings of Women and Girls (Femicide/Feminicide). This initiative responds to the 2019 request by the UN Statistical Commission to develop such a framework, based on the International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes. National institutions, civil society organizations and academics all over the word were invited to participate in the consultation and submit their responses.In Kyrgyzstan, UNODC supported the use of gender-disaggregated statistical forms of gender-related crimes to be included in the electronic crime registry.
UNODC published the study "Abused and Neglected - A Gender Perspective on Aggravated Migrant Smuggling Offences and Response", which found that despite recurring cases where smuggled persons' life and safety is put at risk or where they are subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment there is little to no evidence of judicial responses to put an end to their impunity.
In Mexico, UNODC provided legislative support to promote the harmonization of criminal laws against femicide at the state level.In Kyrgyzstan, UNODC facilitated amendments to the Criminal Procedural Code to strengthen protection mechanisms for survivors of SGBV.
In South Africa, UNODC provided input for the official review of draft legislation concerning sexual and domestic violence (i.e. the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill, the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill, and the Criminal Matters Amendment Bill).
UNODC published the Model Legislative Provisions against Trafficking in Persons and a Legislative Guide to the Trafficking in Persons Protocol, in which measures and principles such as the principle of non-discrimination, establishing procedures to collect gender-disaggregated data, developing gender-sensitive policies against trafficking in persons and educational programs promoting gender equality as preventative measures, are discussed and promoted as practical and implementable best practices.
During the reporting period, UNODC provided training and capacity building on crime prevention and criminal justice responses to gender-based violence against women for criminal justice professional (police, prosecutors, judges, legal aid and other service providers) in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Iraq, Jordan, Liberia, Mexico, Nepal, Saudi, Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, State of Palestine and Viet Nam.For example, in Viet Nam, UNODC trained 166 criminal justice officers in providing protective and justice services for victims of violence against women and girls. The UNODC Handbook on effective adjudication of violence against women was adopted by the Supreme Court.
UNODC also provided training, with a focus on the gender aspect of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrant, under its GLO.ACT and TRACK4TIP programmes. This included specialized workshops for judges in Kyrgyzstan, the Pakistan Federal Investigation Agency, the GBV police unit of Trinidad and Tobago, Community Justice Homes supporting Dominican-Haitian women, as well as trainings for Venezuelan women to promote early identification of TIP and safe case referral.
UNODC contributed to the Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women Campaign, by providing thematic briefs for the Orange Day/ UNiTE Campaign Action Circular on the core topics of the Secretary-General’s Political Engagement Strategy on GBV and COVID-19 (Prevent, Respond, Collect).
UNODC is an active member of the United Nations Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict and contributed to enhanced interagency coordination by actively participating in its Core Groups on Prevention and Advocacy and by co-leading the Core Group on the nexus between sexual violence in conflict and terrorism / violent extremism, in partnership with the UN Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict. UNODC participated in a policy dialogue on conflict-related sexual violence crimes associated with slavery and trafficking, organized by the Team of Experts.
UNODC coordinates the Inter-Agency Coordination Group Against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT), which ensures policy coherence among its membership in their responses to human trafficking.
UNODC also participates in the UN Joint Programme on Essential Services and the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative.
Under the Spotlight Initiative join programmes for Mexico and Kyrgyzstan, UNODC promoted protection, support and services for victims and survivors of gender-based violence.
In Viet Nam, UNODC continued technical support to Domestic Violence Rapid Response Teams, composed of police officers, Women’s Union leaders and volunteers, providing immediate support and options to survivors, facilitating prosecution of perpetrators and supporting a zero tolerance culture towards gender-based violence in the community.
UNODC supported countries in awareness-raising and advocacy for ending violence against women, including:
UNODC established the GLO.ACT Women's Network of Regional Champions against Trafficking in Persons and Migrant Smuggling, composed of female and male gender champions from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan.
UNODC supported ICAT events to promote CEDAW General Recommendation 38 and advocate for survivor-centered approaches to address human trafficking and the non-punishment of trafficking victims.
In 2019, UNODC provided technical legislative support/ services to six countries (Algeria, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, India, State of Palestine, Zambia) for drafting legislation on trafficking in persons. This included assessing legislative needs, providing substantive input on draft legislation, providing substantive and technical input and support during legislative drafting workshops and assessing compliance with existing domestic legislation. UNODC also collaborated with the Government of Uzbekistan to promote the rights of women within the framework of existing laws related to gender.