Friday, June 6, 2008

UN: General Assembly Address at Anti-Trafficking Summit

UNITED NATIONS - With millions worldwide estimated to be trapped by the trade in people for profit, General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim today urged United Nations Member countries to do more to ensure that effective mechanisms were available to protect and assist the trafficked, prosecute the traffickers and bolster prevention measures.

“While it is clear that we have worked hard to put in place a normative framework to fight human trafficking, there remains a vast gulf between the letter of the law and the situation on the ground,” President Kerim said, citing a recent International Labour Organization (ILO) report, which suggests that the illicit profits realized annually from trafficked labourers alone now amounted to some $32 billion.

He said trafficking was thriving because it was taking place against the backdrop of increased demand for cheap labour and service -- particularly in the sex industry –- and the easy global communication and transport. Given the breadth of the problem, it was imperative that each and every country stood firm against trafficking. However, the ability to tackle human trafficking was “only as strong as the weakest link in the chain that can be exploited by criminals”.

Therefore, he said, eliminating “the modern form of slavery” meant scrupulously addressing the conditions that fed it -- both on the demand and on the supply side. Trafficking had first been denounced as incompatible with human dignity in the 1949 Convention for the Suppression of the Trafficking in Persons and Exploitation or Prostitution of Others. In 2000, the adoption of the landmark United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, had laid down the first comprehensive definition of trafficking.

“We have the tools. We must use them more effectively to stamp out human trafficking forever,” he declared, calling on Member States to put their commitments into practice by squarely addressing the “three Ps” as defined in the Protocol: protection of the vulnerable; prosecution of criminals; and prevention of trafficking. Those States that were not yet parties to the relevant treaties should adopt the normative frameworks as soon as possible. To speed up implementation of the Convention and its Protocol, it was important to set up a regular review mechanism to hold States and the United Nations system to account...


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