Ahead of the observance of the first ever World Day against Trafficking in Persons, Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United Nations, John Ashe, has declared that human trafficking has no place in the modern world.
“Millions of people, the majority of whom are women and children, are victims of a modern form of slavery – we call it human trafficking,” said Ashe, who is also President of the United Nations General Assembly, at a special event at U.N. headquarters in New York on Monday, noting that an estimated 2.5 million people are victim to this scourge.
“Men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers both in their own countries and abroad,” he added. “Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims.”
Ashe said funding organizations that directly assist the victims is a key instrument to providing support, calling on all U.N. member-states to do their part in financing the U.N. Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking.
“Not only is human trafficking one of the most grotesque violations of human rights, it is a lucrative crime for perpetrators,” the president said. “With annual profits as high as US$36 billion per year, it ranks as the world’s third most profitable crime after illicit drug and arms trafficking.”
Ashe said that while a lot has been done to combat human trafficking, including the General Assembly’s adoption in 2010 of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, much more needs to be done to help women, men and children who are trafficked into labor, sex slavery, and coerced into illegal actions.
Martin Sajdik, president of the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), said that the Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking has already made strides in rebuilding the lives of those affected.
“We can do more and much more,” he said, “We must better understand the nature of the crime that we are trying to confront.”
Addressing the victims, Sajdik added: “You are not alone, and we will support you in the return to your lives and your dignity.”
In the same vein, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a video message, stressed the need to improve the lives of trafficking victims.
He said it is critical that all U.N. member-states finance the Voluntary Trust Fund, “which supported invaluable non-governmental organizations that helped survivors get back on their feet and integrated into society,” according to the U.N.
Yury Fedotov, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), also said in a video message that the act of selling human beings like commodities shreds every ounce of dignity and respect.
He said it is hard to believe that trafficking of human beings takes place in today’s world.
Even more alarming, women make up the majority – up to 60 per cent – of all trafficking victims globally and women and girls together make up 75 per cent of all victims, Fedotov noted.
He called on every country to ratify and fully implement the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime at the local, national and regional levels, as well as interlink efforts and sever the flow of laundered money.
Fedotov urged all countries, “even in these troubling economic times,” to continue to help victims and survivors.