RSO Members Engagement Function brings together more than one hundred consular and government officials in Bangkok
More than a hundred consular and government officials from Bali Process Member and Observer Governments, representatives from International Organisations and regional partners, and officials from the Royal Thai Government attended the Regional Support Office of the Bali Process (RSO)’s first ever Members Engagement Function on 6 September, which marked the eleventh anniversary of the RSO’s establishment and provided an opportunity for colleagues to informally network and form new connections, and to learn more about one another’s priority areas of work.
Sukmo Yuwono, RSO Co-manager (Indonesia), and David Scott, RSO Co-manager (Australia), gave opening remarks reflecting on the importance of collaboration to enable governments to pool resources, share expertise, and develop comprehensive strategies that have a broader impact when countering trafficking in persons, people smuggling and related transnational crime, and highlighted the importance of such events for building networks and connections across borders. Sukmo Yuwono reflected that “in an increasingly interconnected and complex global landscape, working together is not just an option for governments and international organisations; it is a necessity.”
Opening remarks were followed by a moving performance by sand artist Kongkait Kongchandee, developed in collaboration with the RSO and anti-trafficking organisation A21. The performance told the real story of a person who was deceived by a false job opportunity and trafficked across borders, to be forced to work in an online scam centre. The account also details his subsequent rescue through cross-border law enforcement efforts, and the important support he received from A21 to begin to rebuild his life through specialist services – ranging from support rebuilding career confidence, to accessing justice. The performance showcases vividly how these experiences leave their marks – and how particularly for young, hopeful graduates, they can be damaging and life-changing.
The RSO also ran several networking activities throughout the evening, which aimed to visualise and encourage discussion around common areas of interest and potential areas for collaboration between Member States. The insights gained from these activities sparked conversations between Member States on the evening and will also be used to guide future RSO work.
Guests remarked that the mix of consular and operational staff worked extremely well and was a testament to the convening power of the RSO, driving interesting conversations and allowing colleagues to connect with individuals they would not ordinarily meet.
Thank you to all who came to share ideas, network and grow partnerships. We look forward to continuing conversations and activity with colleagues across the Bali Process Membership to counter activities around trafficking in persons and people smuggling, and to build protection and more effective responses for those who are most vulnerable.