UN seeks global effort to combat human trafficking

Ban Ki Moon

 More than a third of trafficked people detected worldwide between 2003 and 2010n were children.

Top United Nations, UN, officials on Monday urged the UN General Assembly to fully implement key anti-human trafficking treaties and to cooperate more closely to counter the estimated $32 billion industry that has trapped some 2.4 million people into forced labour and domestic servitude, sexual work, and as child soldiers.

UN General Assembly President, Vuk Jeremic, spoke at the opening of a two-day high-level meeting on improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons.

He said, “No effort must be spared to bring to an end the servitude of millions, while helping the survivors to rebuild their lives.

“To achieve this, law enforcement officials, border control officers, labour inspectors, consular and embassy officials, judges and prosecutors, as well as peacekeepers, must not only increase their vigilance, but must be further sensitised to the needs of victims.”

He urged UN member states, philanthropic organisations, and the private sector to increase their support for the trust fund, created by UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon; noting that it provides indispensable humanitarian, legal and financial aid for those most directly affected.”

Also addressing the General Assembly, Mr. Ki-moon reiterated calls for support to the trust fund, urging member states and partners to donate generously.

Mr. Ki-moon also noted the importance of universal ratification of key international treaties, including the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.

He said that more than 154 countries had now ratified the Protocol which had been in force since 2003 and is overseen by UN Office for Drugs and Crime, UNODC, while 175 countries are parties to the Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.

“Human trafficking is a vicious chain that binds victims to criminals. We must break this chain with the force of human solidarity,” the UN chief said. “To achieve justice, we need a strong foundation in the rule of law and this demands putting a stop to the corruption that pollutes so many transactions. We have to strengthen judicial systems and help governments earn the trust of their people.”

He also noted the need to raise living standards overall through the eight anti-poverty targets, known as the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, and the post-2015 development agenda that will continue and improve on the work of the MDGs after the target year is reached.

On his part, Yury Fedotov, UNODC Executive Director, called on UN member states that have not already joined the Global Action Plan, to ratify and fully implement the UN protocols and convention. This includes the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime which marks 10 years since it entered into force. He also urged the 39 UN member states that still need to ratify the Protocol to do so for universal implementation.

Mr. Fedotov praised the UN Global Action for concrete achievements, such as increasing the percentage of countries that have proper legislation to combat human trafficking to 83 per cent from 60 per cent while the number of countries in Africa and the Middle East with anti-human trafficking legislation has doubled in the past three years. He further noted that a quarter of the countries reporting marked an increase in convictions in recent years.

“However, more efforts need to be channelled to fight impunity, improve collection of data and analysis, and contribute to the Trust Fund,” the UNODC chief added.

According to UNODC, nearly one-third of all victims of human trafficking officially detected around the world between 2007 and 2010 were children.

UN’s efforts to end human trafficking are supported by the UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, UN.GIFT, which works with governments, businesses, academia, civil societies and the media. The initiative comprises of UNODC, ILO, and Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR, UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, the UN-partnering International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). During the high-level meeting, countries will examine progress made on the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Adopted in 2010, the Plan calls for integrating the fight against human trafficking into the UN broader programmes to boost development and strengthen security around the world. The meeting is focusing on its four pillars of preventing trafficking, prosecuting offenders, protecting victims and forming partnerships to fight trafficking. The Plan also sets up the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

(PANA/NAN)