The United Nations (UN) Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air is the foremost international response to a phenomenon that has emerged as one of the most significant political, social, and criminal justice issues worldwide.1 Article 3(a) of the Protocol defines the term ‘smuggling of migrants’ to mean ‘the procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, of the illegal entry of a person into a State Party of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident.’

Since its inception, the Smuggling of Migrants Protocol has gained considerable worldwide. Within two years of opening the Protocol for signature in December 2000, 112 States from around the world signed it. The Protocol entered into force on 28 January 2004 following ratification by 40 States, as required by Article 22(1) of the Protocol. The Protocol has found much popularity among Eastern European, Western States, and among Latin American and Caribbean States. Uptake by countries of the Asia Pacific Region, on the other hand, has been particularly slow and by the end of 2014, the majority of States in the Asia Pacific region had not yet ratified the Protocol. Considerable ratification throughout Africa also came swiftly, although there remain a significant number of African States that have yet to ratify.