You are reading: Shared lessons and progress in tackling irregular migration in the Asia Pacific: the Bali Process 20 years on Shared lessons and progress in tackling irregular migration in the Asia Pacific: the Bali Process 20 years on
18 January 2023 | Event
Shared lessons and progress in tackling irregular migration in the Asia Pacific: the Bali Process 20 years on

Bali Process Member States working together to tackle irregular migration across the Asia Pacific came together over 7-8 September 2022, to reflect on the learning and progress they have engendered in the region – and looking ahead to future challenges where ongoing cooperation and dialogue will be vital.

Participants—hailing from Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Palau, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam— explored critical ideas around identification of victims, using content drawn from the RSO and Nexus Institute Practitioner Guide on Trafficking Victim Identification, launched earlier this year.

The RSO developed and facilitated this training course based on the first guide in a larger series of RSO and Nexus Insititute Practitioner and Facilitator Guides on Victim Protection and Assistance, which aims to strengthen protection and support for victims of trafficking. The series aims to help operationalise a coordinated approach across services—from ensuring that individuals are correctly identified as victims, to support for legal redress, to rehabilitation and reintegration into communities.

Attendees also heard from experts in the field of victim identification and protection. Dr Borah Park, Research Fellow at the Institute for National Security Strategy in Seoul, shared perspectives on common characteristics to understand and look for that might signal someone is a victim of trafficking.

Marieke Jasperse, Senior Advisor in Trafficking in Persons at Immigration New Zealand, underscored the critical role of trauma-informed approaches in trafficking investigations. She noted that, “Trafficking is a largely hidden crime and the voices of trafficking victims are largely hidden too. How those who work with victims talk about them has significant implications for how others think about them and how victims think about themselves.”

The Outcome Report can be downloaded here.

Additionally, Annexs can be found below:

Annex 1: Concept Note of the Dialogue

Annex 2: Agenda of the Dialogue

Annex 3: Participant List of the Dialogue

Delegates agreed priority areas ranging from the need to strengthen border management systems, to ongoing challenges in ensuring safety at sea and combating people smuggling by sea, to the growing role of technology as a facilitator for irregular migration, people smuggling and trafficking in persons.

With expert stakeholders gathered in one place for the first time since the pandemic, the anniversary event helped to tunnel down to understand how best to facilitate international cooperation with the Bali Process and practicalities to consider, when building on, and moving new initiatives and frameworks forwards:


Building on progress: 20 years on 

Delegates attending from member states represented law and human rights, immigration, national security and defence, business and employment, as well as member UN bodies – to share examples of practical initiatives, resources and tools developed with the support of the RSO.

Over the course of the two days, as well as hearing from a range of speakers, delegates worked together in small groups – centred geographically – to discuss the main issues and priorities facing the Asia Pacific region.


Shared concerns and areas of focus included:

  • The need to strengthen border management systems
  • The changing patterns of trafficking in persons in the region
  • The regional dimension of migration flows and exploitation of migrants
  • The growing role of technology as a facilitator for irregular migration, people smuggling and trafficking in persons
  • The transnational crime threats faced by the region, and the issue of fraudulent documents for irregular migration
  • Identification of and assistance for victims of trafficking in persons continues to face a diverse set of challenges
  • The safety of life at sea and the ongoing challenges in combating people smuggling by sea
  • The need for collective efforts in analysing emerging trends of irregular migration in the Bali Process Region
  • Corruption as a facilitator of irregular migration
  • The need to strengthen the justice sector to effectively combat people smuggling and trafficking in persons

Member states helped to describe where the RSO could focus efforts to best support capacity building and effectiveness of response across the region. The wealth of detail that we were able to establish through discussion will help to inform continued work to refine and update the RSO’s work plan and where we prioritise efforts:

  • The Bali Process to consider establishing a central secretariat hub for coordination for Bali Process Members and for the Bali Process Working Groups to facilitate improved communication on Bali Process activities and meeting outcomes.
  • The RSO to coordinate with researchers to facilitate country and sub-region-specific studies designed to tailor support for the Bali Process Member States.
  • The RSO to implement stakeholder mapping among Bali Process Member and Observer agencies involved in irregular migration management, counter trafficking and smuggling and combatting transnational crime to establish and maintain an accurate record of focal points to support more regular, effective and targeted engagement.
  • The RSO to optimise the use of an online platform to facilitate an exchange of best practices, thematic dialogues, roundtable discussions, capacity-building and pre-briefing meetings with the Bali Process Members.
  • The RSO to collaborate more closely with the Bali Process Member States to further develop strategic relationships with the Member States, including the secondment of officials and the launch of an alumni network.

Dialogue and cooperation

Increased dialogue and cooperation across the region, as harnessed by participation in the Bali Process, aims to make tackling challenges around irregular migration, trafficking in persons, and people smuggling more effective and impactful.

2022 marks the 20th anniversary of the Bali Process and the 10th anniversary of the Regional Support Office of the Bali Process (RSO), and this roundtable provided an important opportunity to facilitate discussion and capability-building.

Pak Sukmo Yuwono, Co-manager of the RSO (Indonesia) said: This year marks the 20th year of the Bali Process and the 10th year for the RSO. I expect further strengthening and cooperation between Member States to tackle irregular migration, human smuggling and trafficking, facilitating conversations and collaboration to tackle this issues.

David Scott, Co-manager of the RSO (Australia) said: It was extremely helpful to come together with and hear from Member States on their main priorities and concerns – particularly in light of the additional challenges colleagues are grappling with in a changed landscape post Covid-19. We have developed an ambitious forward work plan for the RSO and we look forward to continuing to work closely with colleagues – to ensure timely, appropriate and impactful input which enable them to best deliver effective responses to regional crises and needs.