Director General/Executive Director
Speech at the Backes & Strauss Event on Behalf of the Blue Heart Campaign
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to Mr. Vartkess Knadjian, the Chief Executive Officer of the premium watchmaker Backes & Strauss, and his staff for this important initiative.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Tonight's event brings together the private and the public sectors in the name of our collective desire to halt one of the ugliest transnational crimes - trafficking of human beings.
Indeed, we confront a global issue touching all regions, all countries.
It is a global phenomenon that turns children, women and men into slaves and coerces them into numerous activities, including sexual exploitation and forced labour.
This modern day slavery is one of the most profitable transnational crimes with approximately US$32 billion generated annually.
Based on estimates, 2.4 million people across the globe are enduring the misery of human trafficking at any one time.
Human trafficking is also one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises, competing with the drugs and arms trades.
However, the figures I have quoted are traditional UN-style assessments.
Let me break these figures down into something that we can all better understand and which, suitably, can be displayed on a watch face.
- Criminals earn an average of US$60,000 per minute or US$3,600,000 per hour from human trafficking.
- An average of 1 person every eight minutes is trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation in Europe, or around 7 individuals every hour.
If we are to fight human trafficking, and these statistics make it our collective duty to do so, we need a comprehensive and coordinated approach.
A response that creates partnerships to support criminal justice, victim assistance and protection, human rights, migration policy and labour market regulation.
I am proud to say that the United Nations, and in particular, the Office on Drugs and Crime, plays a leading role in fighting this shameful crime.
Responding to the wishes of Member States, expressed in the UN General Assembly resolution, the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking was formed in 2010.
Managed by UNODC, the Victim's Trust Fund supports organizations and helps Governments, the private sector, international organizations, NGOs and individuals to work in the spirit of cooperation to help the victims.
The 2011 Small Grants Facility to support NGO's on the ground is the first initiative of the Trust Fund and will enable them to apply for funding of up to USD 25,000 per year.
The projects selected by Board of Trustees cover all of the world's major regions.
Examples of the successful projects include:
- The rescue of Nepalese children trafficked and forced to perform in circuses;
- The delivery of psychosocial, educational, medical and material assistance to child victims of trafficking in Cambodia, and
- The provision of comprehensive reintegration services for victims in Albania.
The Victim's Trust Fund supports UNODC's Blue Heart Campaign, which encourages the general public to show solidarity with the victims of human trafficking by wearing a Blue Heart.
The UNODC Blue Heart Campaign has been launched officially in Mexico, Spain, Serbia and Lebanon, received high level support in Korea, Thailand and Portugal and has been endorsed by Colombia's top television station.
The Trust Fund is a "people-to-people" fund.
It gives us the capacity to deliver in a short period of time funding directly to NGO's working at the coalface. We aim to ensure that every cent is spent on action not administration.
With this in mind, the Victim's Trust Fund continues to seek donations from the private sector and members of the public.
Indeed, around the world, there is growing support in the business community to join efforts to combat the growth of human trafficking.
I see this as evidence of the fact that, while we may work in the public or private sector, we live in the same world.
As a result, we all have a shared interest in ensuring that human beings are not stripped of their rights, stripped of their dignity.
Earlier, I stated that the criminal proceeds from human trafficking amount to some $60,000 a minute. By comparison, the Victim's Trust Fund is supported by an average of around 80 cents a minute; based on money received.
The disparity is glaring and it has severe implications for our response to human trafficking.
We have our political will and strategies, we have the experience, we have the partnerships. All we need now is stronger financial support for the Fund. Your contributions will allow us to deliver on the ground and to offer our carefully tailored assistance to victims.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The launch of the Victoria Blue Heart watch is a valuable contribution to the Trust Fund and I would like to, once again, thank Backes and Strauss for their tremendous support.
I hope that everyone present will also support the Trust Fund. The victims of human trafficking need our help.
Since I first started to speak, some eight minutes ago, the criminals have profited by US$480,000, and-in comparison-the Victims Trust Fund has earned roughly between six and seven dollars.
And the watch continues to tick…