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GA to Focus on International Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking
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GA to focus on international efforts to combat human trafficking (Credit: UN.GIFT)
The UN General Assembly is holding a special debate on Tuesday, 3 June to consider the most effective ways that the Organization could combat human trafficking. Delegates will discuss how to improve cooperation and coordination in three main areas set forth in the UN Protocol on trafficking in persons - namely: prevention of the crime, protection of victims and punishing perpetrators.
The high-level debate will focus global attention on the scale of the problem and promote international partnerships to combat the menace.
It follows the first-ever global forum to fight human trafficking held in Vienna last February by the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). That forum brought together 1,200 experts, legislators, law enforcement teams, business leaders, NGO representatives and trafficking victims from 116 countries.
"Human trafficking affects almost every region of the world and combating it requires truly innovative and cooperative approaches" says President of the General Assembly, Srgjan Kerim, in a press statement issued last week.
Some 2.5 million people across the world are estimated to be victims of human trafficking. The majority of them are women and children. About 127 countries have been identified by the UNODC as sources of trafficked persons and 137 nations as destinations for those trafficked. A recent International Labour Organization (ILO) global report on forced labour suggested that annual illicit profit from persons trafficked into forced labour is about US$32 billion.
"We all have a role to play in fighting this crime," Mr. Kerim said.
DSG Migiro, GA President Kerim, USG Shaaban and actress Ashley Judd during the debate (Credits: iSeek/Fred Fath)
Two interactive panel discussions on "Enhancing multilateral cooperation to prevent trafficking in persons" and "Protecting victims of trafficking and cross-border cooperation in prosecuting traffickers in persons," will follow the debate. The discussion will among other things look at issues such as demand for trafficked persons, the value of private sector codes of conduct and cross-border cooperation for effective prosecution of traffickers.
General Assembly President Kerim and Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro will make opening remarks, while the United Arab Emirates' Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Anwar Gargash and actress and philanthropist Ms. Ashley Judd will give the keynote speeches.
UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa will moderate the morning discussion, while the Deputy Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio leads the afternoon event.
Panelists include representatives from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the US State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, MTV Foundation Europe, The Carlson Companies, the ILO, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as well as representatives of Member States.
GA President Kerim and Dr. Gargash together with Ms. Judd will address the media at 11:00 a.m., followed by another joint briefing at 1:00 p.m. by UNODC's Executive Director, IOM Deputy Director-General Ndioro Ndiaye and Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang.
The Global Problem of trafficking, Panel Discussion, New York, 2 June2008 (Credit: iSeek)
At a side event preceding the debate, the UNODC and the Australian Mission to the UN hosted an open discussion on "The Global Problem of Trafficking" at Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium on Monday, 2 June, from 6:30pm to 9:30pm. The event featured the screening of the Australian movie "The Jammed"- a social thriller by Dee McLachlan about trafficking and the sex slave trade in Melbourne. The Australian Ambassador to the UN, Robert Hill, moderated the discussion.
Panelists included Veronica Sywak, who plays the lead role in the movie, and Simone Monasebian, Chief of the UNODC New York Office. Ms. Sywak noted: "Human trafficking is more profitable than drug trafficking. Narcotics, you sell once, a girl, you can sell 500 times." Asked by the audience what individuals can do to fight trafficking, Ms. Sywak responded: "Artists paint the canvas for social change," actors can help raise awareness, while Ms. Monasebian noted: "Ask your politicians what their views on trafficking are." In the same way, you can ckeck a can of tuna and verify it is not dolphin, you can "vote with your wallets" when you buy garments, and try to make sure the clothes you buy are not the product of trafficked labour: "it is inconvenient, but effective," she further advised.
On Monday and Tuesday, 2 and 3 June, at Headquarters, the UNODC in partnership with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) will present an interactive human trafficking mock trial and role play on the "Criminal Justice Responses Against Trafficking In Persons" in the Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium from 1:15 to 2:45 both days.
The event, organized as part of the UN.GIFT initiative, is designed for members of Permanent Missions, UN staff, interested representatives of civil society, academia, the legal community, social workers, law enforcement, and the private sector.
The role play will demonstrate best practice on identification of victims, interviewing victims, use of interpreters as well as victim-witness assistance and protection within the criminal justice system.
It will also provide an overview of legal, policy and operational approaches to human trafficking, explore the contributions that various actors can bring to the fight against human trafficking and look at the role of partnerships in providing protection to the victims of trafficking and changing prevailing perspectives on human trafficking.