Director General/Executive Director
Special High Level Event: In Stronger Partnership and Coordination to Stop Human Trafficking: Eradicating Modern-Day Slavery through Sustainable Development
New York, 9 February 2016
Thank you for convening this special meeting, highlighting the very important question of how sustainable development efforts can contribute to eradicating human trafficking.
Action is needed more urgently than ever, as criminals are profiting from deprivation and lack of opportunity, and exploiting instability and conflict.
As we have seen in the continuing migration and refugee crisis, vulnerable women, children and men are falling victim to traffickers.
Trafficking victims from Syria and Iraq are being detected more frequently in many parts of the world.
Groups like ISIL and Boko Haram are notoriously exploiting shocking numbers of victims in the territories where they operate.
Trafficking victims from the horn of Africa, including Somali citizens, are increasingly detected in Europe.
As the Secretary-General has already mentioned, we have a warning that a shocking number of vulnerable migrant children in Europe may be falling into the hands of organized criminal groups.
This is clearly unacceptable, and international action is urgently needed.
Just twenty kilometres outside of Vienna, for example, at the refugee centre in Traiskirchen, one hundred children may be unaccounted for and potentially exploited as easy targets by traffickers.
In December, the Security Council held its first-ever thematic debate on trafficking in persons in situations of conflict.
I had the honour of addressing the debate, and urged the international community to make better use of the tools we have to take action against human trafficking.
First and foremost among these is the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its landmark Protocol against human trafficking.
The Convention and Protocol provide the needed legal and practical framework to enable countries to work together to address what is commonly a crime that crosses multiple jurisdictions.
They also provided the foundation for further advancing collective efforts against trafficking, including through the General Assembly's adoption in 2010 of a Global Plan of Action, which mandated UNODC to conduct research on trafficking, and established a UN Trust Fund to assist victims.
However, more needs to be done to foster action and cooperation among countries affected by trafficking, whether they are states from which victims are trafficked, states through which victims transit or states in which demand exists for such victims.
The Trafficking in Persons Protocol enjoys almost universal ratification, and most countries have enacted relevant laws.
The problem is that many countries are not using these laws. Four in ten countries reported having less than ten yearly convictions, with nearly fifteen per cent having no convictions at all.
The share of children among the detected victims is increasing, representing nearly one-third of all detected trafficking victims in the world.
The UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons was an important initiative of the Group of Friends.
So far, the Trust Fund has supported thirty NGO projects, in twenty-six countries around the world, with grants worth one million, seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
However, despite the Fund's strong track record, contributions are steadily decreasing.
We also have the Inter-agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons, which brings together sixteen UN entities and other international organizations, and which UNODC is chairing this year.
ICAT can facilitate a stronger, holistic and comprehensive approach by agencies across the UN system, which the General Assembly highlighted in its recent resolution.
However, as of this year ICAT has zero budget.
As Chair of ICAT, UNODC will do what we can to ensure that the UN system can address key trafficking issues with one voice.
But we will not be able to fully take advantage of ICAT's potential without resources.
Fresh funding is also needed to continue the good work of the Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, and I very much hope that the Group of Friends and other Member States will contribute.
There are fifty projects to support trafficking victims on a reserve list, eligible for immediate funding should it be received this year.
As the guardian of the Convention and its Protocols, UNODC remains committed and fully engaged in supporting Member States, including through our global programmes and network of field offices.
We have also launched a joint EU-UNODC four-year Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants, which will address the needs of thirteen countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.
The 2030 Agenda recognizes that human trafficking must be targeted in order to realize a number of SDGs, from achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls, to promoting peaceful, inclusive societies and economic growth.
Clearly, we have the political will to take on the traffickers.
With the Convention and Protocol, we have the necessary foundation. We have well established frameworks and tools, and the right experience and expertise.
What we need is more meaningful international cooperation and adequate funding to take effective action.
Otherwise our efforts to stop this terrible crime, which hinders development and so unscrupulously profits from the despair and vulnerability of people everywhere, can only fall short.
I look forward to our discussion. Thank you.