Transnational Organised Crime in the Mekong region: Review of regional policies, operational plans, and capacity to effectively respond to emerging challenges

Amber McKinley, Emma Wintle, Mechelle Moore, Christina Storm, Steven Baker, Rachel Man Sheng Tong, Geoff Atkins, David Y Chen, Justin Floyd, Cynthia Chan, Zack Gong, Caroline Lau, Yujin Liu, Caitlin O'Neill

Research output: Resource/documentDiscussion paper


The government of Australia has a history of investment in tackling human trafficking in the Asia-Pacific region and is committed to be a regional leader in approaching the problem with criminal justice sector responses. Australia has a national interest in helping Southeast Asian countries achieve long-term progress in addressing transnational organised crime (TNOC). With the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the investment remains highly relevant to support regional security and stability in the changed COVID-19 context and aligns closely with the strategic objectives set out in Partnerships for Recovery: Australia’s COVID-19 Development Response. Regionally, Australia’s strategic partnership with ASEAN includes enhanced cooperation to prevent and combat a range of transnational crimes. In November 2019, Australia joined leaders at the East Asia Summit to call for enhanced collaboration to address TNOC, including through greater intelligence sharing and law enforcement capacity building, legislative assistance and enhanced investigative, prosecution, and judicial cooperation.
The next phase of its policy work combatting not only human trafficking, but other transnational serious organised crime, is expected to be heavily influenced by the changing environment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on agency and regional capacities. The fact that Australia is the source of much of the demand that drives the engine of human trafficking and illicit commodities markets in the Mekong region also places it in the unique position—through a combination of policy, funding, and programmatic design—to be a source of solutions in that same region. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the current state of affairs in the Mekong region, the role of the Australian government and policies and, in light of the development of a global pandemic, the projected impact of COVID-19 on the human trafficking and TNOC landscape in the Mekong region. Finally, the paper’s recommendations fall into each of the “Four P’” categories—Partnership, Prosecution, Protection, and Prevention—offering a comprehensive analysis and approach that addresses each critical aspect of the human trafficking framework.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationUSA
PublisherDT Global & DT Institute
Number of pages108
Publication statusPublished - 09 Jun 2021


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