13 May 2013 - Policy-makers put human trafficking on center stage today at a High Level Meeting of the General Assembly chaired by the President of the GA Vuk Jeremić and in the presence of the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The event was attended by 85 states, UNODC Goodwill Ambassador to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Mira Sorvino, as well as representatives from civil society.
Ten years after the entry into force of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Trafficking in Persons Protocol, and three years after the adoption of the Global Plan of Action to combat human trafficking, Member States gathered in New York to review progress and to map out a strategy for the future.
Human trafficking is a crime that stretches across the globe with millions of victims, although much of it remains hidden. "We are dealing with a crime of the 21st Century: adaptive, cynical, sophisticated; existing in developed and developing countries alike" said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov at the opening of the high level meeting.
In an effort to spur concerted international action to fight modern slavery, countries adopted a Global Plan of Action in July 2010 to report on human trafficking and to strengthen the collective response.
Reviewing progress on the Global Plan in New York, Mr. Fedotov revealed some good news: today, 83 per cent of countries have proper legislation to combat human trafficking, whereas in 2009 - before the Global Plan - this figure was only 60 per cent. "What is encouraging is the number of countries in Africa and the Middle East that have anti-human trafficking legislation. This number has doubled during the last three years", he continued.
Further, according to the UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2012 the number of convictions globally has increased: 25 percent of countries reported a marked increase in convictions, while remaining countries viewed the situation as stable.
However, challenges in the fight against human trafficking remain: overall conviction rates continue to be low, data-collection remains a challenge, and 39 Member States still need to ratify the Trafficking in Persons Protocol. Further, support to Victims remains inadequate, as mechanisms such as the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking are not funded to the levels appropriate to give victims worldwide full assistance and support.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on all Member States to ratify the Trafficking in Persons Protocol with the goal of achieving universal ratification and implementation.
Mr. Fedotov urged Member States to increase commitment and resources dedicated to fighting human trafficking, as well as to provide comprehensive data in order understand the nature of this global crime.
Above all, Mr. Fedotov called for more cooperation among states to meet this global challenge. "Success against traffickers can only come if we engage more fully in the elaborated mechanisms of cooperation" he reiterated. "We need more sharing of best practices, greater mutual legal assistance, more joint operations across borders, national strategies on human trafficking linked to regional and international approaches, as well as the cooperation of key stakeholders such as civil society, the private sector and the media."