International Organization for Migration

172 Member States (

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), initially known as the Provisional Intergovernmental Committee for the Movement of Migrants from Europe, was established in 1951 to respond to displacement in Eastern Europe after the Second World War. His mandate was to help European governments to identify resettlement countries for approximately 11 million people displaced after the war and in the 1950s was organized the transport of about one million people. Established as a logistics agency, the Organization has expanded its reach and has become the leading international agency working with governments and civil society to advance understanding of migration issues, to encourage social and economic development through migration and to support the dignity and well-being of migrants.

As a migration agency, IOM has become the reference point for the global debate on the social, economic and political implications of migration in the twenty-first century.

IOM and trafficking in human beings

According to IOM, trafficking in human beings must be dealt with in a more general context or in the context of migration management. Its wide range of activities in this area is implemented in collaboration with government institutions, NGOs and international organizations. This approach is based on 3 principles which regulate all activities against the trade in human beings of IOM:

  • Respect of human rights,
  • The physical, mental and social well-being of the individual and his community,
  • Sustainability through the construction of the institutional abilities of governments and civil society.

IOM conducts research, both qualitative and quantitative, to obtain essential information in order to improve its, and others, fight against trafficking in human beings. Specific areas of intervention included human trafficking routes and trends, causes and consequences of human trafficking, both for the trafficked individual and for society, as well as structures, motivations, and modus operandi of organized criminal groups. A large part of this work is usually done at national level but IOM always collects and analyzes data on trafficking in human beings from a regional perspective to further support cooperation between States in combating cross-border trade in human beings.

The global results that IOM would like to obtain are:

  • Provide protection and reinforce the trafficked women, men, girls and boys,
  • Increase awareness and understanding of the problem,
  • Bring justice to trafficked people.

IOM has worked to fight against trafficking in human beings since 1994. During this time, it has carried out more than 800 projects in over 100 countries and has provided assistance to around 20,000 victims of trafficking. Its primary objectives are to prevent the trafficking of people and to protect the victims of trade, offering them the possibility of a safe and sustainable social inclusion and/or to come back to their country of origin.

IOM carries out information campaigns both in the countries of origin and in the destination countries to educate the public on the issue of trafficking in persons, to encourage people to report suspicious cases and to equip vulnerable populations with the information necessary to better protect themselves from tactics of trafficking recruitment.

IOM also carries out technical cooperation activities that build the abilities of both government institutions and civil society to better face the challenges posed by trafficking in human beings. This includes the training of non-governmental organizations and government officials, such as the police, technical assistance for the development of legislation, policies and procedures against trafficking, and infrastructure upgrades.

IOM offers direct assistance to victims of human trafficking in collaboration with its partners. This includes accommodation in safe locations, medical and psychosocial care, skills development and vocational training, assistance for social inclusion, and options for voluntary, safe and dignified return to countries of origin, or resettlement in third countries in extreme cases.

IOM estimates that a third of trafficked persons are minors, and so IOM adheres to a policy that offers special protection to this most vulnerable group. All the IOM’s activities against human trafficking are developed and implemented in a framework focused on the well-being of the trafficked person.

IOM recognizes that every victim is unique and requires tailor-made assistance. Likewise, the nature of the traffic is different from area to area and keeps evolving, that means a continuous change of responses.

IOM has created the Manual of Assistance to Victims of Trafficking which does not intend to create a single methodology for the provision of assistance to victims of trafficking. Rather, it intends to offer suggestions and indications based on many years of experience. This manual provides guidance and advice on the effective implementation of a full range of services for victims of trafficking, from the initial contact point to screening for their social inclusion.

Finally, for more than a decade, IOM has developed and maintained a standardized trafficking data management tool, called the Trafficking Module (CTM), which is the world’s largest database with primary data on victims of trafficking. CTM facilitates the management of all processes of direct assistance, movement and inclusion through a centrally managed system. In return, the database strengthens the research and the understanding of causes, processes, trends and consequences of human trafficking.