UNODC is cosponsor of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS - UNAIDS
Launch of Apne Aap's Resource Book
Remarks by Mr. Gary Lewis, Representative, UNODC South Asia, at the launch of Apne Aap's Resource Book "Confronting the Demand for Sex - Trafficking" on 1 August 2007, New Delhi, India
I can imagine few crimes more terrible than the sale of women and children for sexual exploitation and forced labour. This year - 2007 - marks the bicentennial of the end of the trans - Atlantic slave trade. Yet, the fact remains that forms of the same phenomenon exist in our world today. This should fill us with shame. And with rage.
By the same token, there are few jobs that I consider more noble than fighting
human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Trafficking is a global crime and it is organized. It is a multi-billion dollar industry - some estimates put it at #2 billion in turnover - that create profits for those who are involved. It affects millions of people, particularly in poor countries.
In assisting governments and civil society to curb human trafficking, the United Nations supports the famous Three "P's" of anti human trafficking - prevent, protect and prosecute. Some of our work includes awareness-raising campaigns at the local-level. Prevention also involves urging governments to do what they can to improve local economic circumstances to prevent the factors which cause risky migration in the first place. And here I would also argue that we need to do more to enlist the help of men and boys in the process. For it is their prejudiced view of the role of
women in society that often serves as the basis for much violence, degradation and abuse of women and girls. Countries and communities must everywhere accept that one important measure of our civilization - and of our humanity - is to respect women and girls and to treat them as equals. On protection, we provide victim support.
And what of law enforcement - or prosecution? This is the third "P". Yes, it is true that the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking, Especially Women and Children, which entered into force on 25 December 2003, is in place. But the laws to which it gives international sanction must be applied effectively. Generally, in South Asia, I find that in most cases there is already a sufficient legal basis for effective action against traffickers. What is really needed is to empower the existing system. The handbook which we launch today represents one such effort. Our intended audience is policemen and policewomen as well as prosecutors. The handbook offers practical insights which can be applied instantly by those responsible for law enforcement. Its authors are among those who have been committed for years to the fight against trafficking. Their handbook's insights are born of the practical realities of this struggle. I commend it to you. I urge you to read it and lend your own shoulder to this immense - and noble - struggle.
Our effort today represents one important effort in South Asia. But there are others. The region is full of splendid examples of NGO activism - and now of good examples of effective anti-trafficking law enforcement. Efforts that respect women's rights are coming more and more to the fore. We need to give voice and visibility to these examples.
One opportunity to do so will come our way on 10 - 11 October of this year right here in Delhi.
I am pleased to announce that the Government of India has agreed to join the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to host the South Asian segment of the worldwide
UNGIFT Initiative . GIFT stands for the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (GIFT Initiative). The "South Asia Regional Conference on Human Trafficking" will bring together a wide variety of private sector business partners, governments, other United Nations agencies, and NGOs. This conference will focus on the main themes of law enforcement capacity building, partnership with the private sector to provide victim support, and organizational networking. It will involve several South Asian countries, and focus on what we can do - business, government, media and civil society - to bring about a turning point in the struggle against this particularly evil trade.
Given the number of friends from the media who are present here today, I conclude by seeking support from those of you in the media who wish to lend their important medium in the struggle against trafficking.
I call upon you all to join us in this important endeavour.