Joint Press Release (UN Women, IOM and UNODC): Experts from the MENA Region Meet to Contribute to the CEDAW General Recommendation on Trafficking in Women and Girls in the Context of Global Migration

   

Cairo, Egypt 

24 November 2019 - Trafficking in human beings for the purposes of exploitation is a major challenge to global development and stability. Women and girls are frequently the victims of this criminal enterprise. In an effort to address the significant gendered dimension of trafficking in persons in the Arab States, and noting the international migrants flows within the region and beyond, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the International Organization for Migration ( IOM) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime ( UNODC) has partnered with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights ( OHCHR) to organize an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) to inform the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women ( CEDAW) General Recommendation on Trafficking in Women and Girls in the Context of Global Migration. The General Recommendations provide guidance to States parties on the implementation of the Convention, clarifying issues which require further elaboration.

Gender experts from governments, civil society and international organizations from across the region are convening in Cairo between 24 and 25 November to discuss the trends, continuing challenges and lessons learned on the implementation of Article 6 of  CEDAW, which calls on State parties to suppress all forms of trafficking in women and girls, ensuring that the human rights of women and girls are respected, protected and fulfilled in accordance with international law.  CEDAW Committee members Dalia Leinarte, Naela Gabr and Tamader Al-Rammah are joining the meeting to offer global perspectives based on their review of national reports submitted to the Committee. They highlight that unprecedented migration flows have increased the risk of women and girls to new forms of exploitation and trafficking, and underline that ensuring gender equality and eliminating discrimination against women is the undisputed key to effectively combating the gender-based crime. Article 6 of the UN  CEDAW Convention is a good basis for combating such a scourge, and a new General Recommendation prepared by the UN CEDAW Committee can be a road map helping state parties to implement the said article.

This week's meeting, generously funded by the Governments of Austria and Japan, and IOM's Migration Resource Allocation Committee (MIRAC), focuses on four aspects of the issue: the root causes of trafficking of women and girls as related to international migration trends in the region; policies and laws to prevent and combat trafficking of women and girls; the challenges and lessons learned in providing services to women and girls, including those who have been victims and survivors of trafficking; the challenges and opportunities in implementing global governance frameworks as a measure to counter human trafficking.

The meeting also falls on the International Day to End Violence Against Women, 25 November, which marks the first day of the international awareness campaign " 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence", which is spear-headed by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres. Underlining the importance of these discussions to contribute to efforts to address violence against women and girls, Moez Doraid, UN Women Regional Director  a.i. stated: "These efforts come at a pivotal moment for gender equality globally, with 2020 marking the 25 th anniversary of Beijing +25 and the 20 th anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security." Mr. Doraid noted the importance of this discussion considering that one in two victims of trafficking in North Africa and the Middle East are women and girls, and it's hence imperative to tackle the gross violations of women's fundamental human rights as a result of this crime.

IOM Regional Director Carmela Godeau emphasised "Migration patterns in MENA region are highly-gendered, women and girls tend to be identified more frequently as victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced labour. We believe addressing the vulnerabilities of these migrants through a human rights-based, gender-responsive and child-sensitive approach is our way towards limiting and preventing trafficking in persons."

"The capacity of countries in the MENA region to detect and identify victims of trafficking and convict traffickers has increased in the last years. Despite this progress, prosecution remain limited and impunity persists. Addressing impunity requires (first and foremost) the prompt and accurate identification of victims, which can only be realized by inclusive and gender-sensitive legislative and policy frameworks and a victim-centered criminal justice response, that takes into account the specific situation and vulnerabilities of women and girl survivors and victims of trafficking", commented Cristina Albertin, UNODC Regional Representative for the Middle East and North Africa.