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Creation of the Memorandum of Understanding Between the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates on Cooperation in Combatting Human Trafficking

GCM Objectives



Type of practice:

Policy (including law, public measure)

Geographic Scope



Bulk of the cases referred by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) covered 2,429 likely trafficking-in-person and illegal recruitment victims from the Middle East Region. Among our Foreign Service Posts in the Middle East, our Foreign Service Posts in the UAE garnered the highest number of case referrals with 36 cases of human trafficking through illegal recruitment as of 2021. Trafficking victims from the UAE also form a big part of the repatriated Filipinos that the DFA facilitated in the past years. This is following recent observations that the UAE has become a transhipment point for Filipinos trafficked to other countries in the Middle East such as Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon, among others.

Thus, at the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly in New York in September 2019, Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the United Arab Emirates on Cooperation in Combating Human Trafficking. The MOU serves as an affirmation of the commitment of both countries to protect vulnerable migrant workers who are more prone to become victims of trafficking. It will deepen cooperation between the two countries allowing assistance in repatriation, platform for information exchange and sharing of best practices. Bilateral meetings have since been conducted for its implementation, continuing exchanges and views to improve cooperation against trafficking.


Main Implementer:

Government of the Philippines

Other Organizations:

Department of Foreign Affairs – Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs


UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Benefit and Impact

The MOU is the first cooperation agreement between the UAE and the Philippines to address trafficking-in-persons. It is aligned with the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol).

Thus, the MOU is expected to implement concerted efforts for the prevention and appropriate response to both victims and traffickers. Specifically, it shall: establish a mechanism for exchange of information; share best practices to combat trafficking; exchange skills and expertise related to prevention and awareness on trafficking; promote safety, human rights and the best interests of victims; provide widest cooperation and assistance in repatriation and rehabilitation; develop and utilize procedures for rescue, protection, recovery and repatriation of victims; and other forms of cooperation as agreed by the involved parties.

Key Lessons

The first bilateral meeting on the implementation of the MOU was held in November 2021. It enabled both delegations from the Philippines and the UAE to exchange best practices and views on how best to implement the MOU. Among the areas agreed upon for improvement are co-organizing a workshop focusing on rehabilitation and safe return of survivors; co-organizing activities for Filipino communities to raise awareness about human trafficking and UAE’s efforts to combat it; conduct of emergency consultations to discuss urgent cases requiring attention of both sides; and cooperation on case build-up, prosecution of human trafficking cases, and identification of traffickers.

Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)

The review of the implementation of the MOU is set to be convened annually. Such review mechanism is recommended for both parties to discuss the progress of the agreements being implemented and to provide an avenue for open dialogues among stakeholders.

GCM Guiding Principles*

*All practices are to uphold the ten guiding principles of the GCM. This practice particularly exemplifies these listed principles.


The anti-trafficking initiatives of the Philippines and the UAE make our response efforts more organized, coordinated, responsive, and proactive. This can also make room for more improvements in our existing frameworks and migration processes to prevent and combat trafficking-in-persons.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Additional Resources

Date submitted:

18 February 2022

Disclaimer: The content of this practice reflects the views of the implementers and does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations, the United Nations Network on Migration, and its members.