Director General/Executive Director
Remarks at 68th UN General Assembly High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development
New York, 3 October 2013
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to talk to you briefly about two issues referred to in the title of this roundtable, namely smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons.
These are global challenges for which we have agreed international frameworks, standards and expertise, but which, due to gaps in implementation, require urgent attention and concrete action.
Migrant smugglers and human traffickers prey on the vulnerable and take advantage of their legitimate aspirations for a better life.
Irregular migrants are at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking, which represents a gross violation of human rights. Victims may be physically, psychologically or sexually abused, or forced to live in slave-like conditions.
Migrant smuggling may also lead to human rights violations. Vulnerable women and children in particular are exposed to considerable risks in the migration process. They may be subjected to abuses, ranging fromlack of food and water to torture, extortion, rape and even threat of death during their journey.
Both trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants are serious crimes.
Member States have made this abundantly clear in the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its two supplementary protocols, which specifically address human trafficking and migrant smuggling.
As the guardian of the Convention and its protocols, UNODC works with Member States to help bring legislation in line with this agreed framework, and to strengthen and coordinate the response to these transnational challenges.
But although we have seen important progress in these efforts, it is nevertheless clear that more must be done to stop modern-day slavery and the abuse of migrants at the hands of smugglers.
The lack of awareness of obligations leads to inadequate protection and support for trafficking victims and smuggled migrants whose rights have been violated.
As I have said, the existing standards and tools, namely in the UNTOC and its Protocols, enable us to address these crimes. Moreover, we have witnessed growing awareness of the challenges posed by migrant smuggling and human trafficking in the decade since the Protocols were agreed.
The problem is that, although ratification of both Protocols is high, more resources are needed and more work needs to be done to ensure their implementation.
Words must be matched with action.
The full and effective implementation of the Protocols can help not only prevention efforts, but also support closer international cooperation to investigate and prosecute the traffickers and smugglers who will not be deterred.
This also means improving capacities to follow the money flows globally, to identify the criminals and deprive them of the proceeds of their illicit business .
Most importantly, full and effective implementation means protecting trafficking victims and the rights of smuggled migrants, which is given priority in the Protocols and which must be built into the response to these crimes.
The international law gives us the tools we need to protect trafficking victims and the rights of smuggled migrants, and bring to justice the criminals who profit from their vulnerability. But this requires first and foremost the commitment of states to ensure that they are put into practice.
I urge you to consider this as a priority for concrete action in developing the outcomes of this High Level meeting.