UNODC Eastern Africa Speeches

You are here: Home / Speeches

Breakfast Dialogue hosted by the Kingdom of Norway ahead of the Blue Heart Launch in Ethiopia

Speech: by Amado Philip de Andrés. Regional Representative, Regional Office for Eastern Africa.

21 October 2019; Breakfast Dialogue hosted by the Kingdom of Norway ahead of the Blue Heart Launch in Ethiopia

Honourable Ambassadors;

Dear Director General Samuel;


UNODC Training participants;

Students from universities;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Good Morning,

Madame Deputy Secretary General, Ambassador Lundemo, Ambassador Aasland, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to join the Ambassadors in extending to you all a very warm welcome on behalf of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and to express how grateful we are to the Royal Norwegian Embassy for their generous support to convene this breakfast dialogue.

Before we get started, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all of you who generously sacrificed your valuable time to ensure this event was possible and successful.

I would also like to commend the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and its visionary Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed for their recent reception of the esteemed Nobel Peace Prize. In the spirit of peace and the pursuance of equal and fair sustainable development, I am sure that I speak on behalf of the entire United Nations family in expressing our deepest congratulations. We are proud to stand next to you as an ever-present partner as Ethiopia carves a future where every man, boy, women and girl have access to equal rights and opportunities.

At the core of this progressive dialogue meeting are two interlinked ambitions:

First, and most importantly, as the title suggests, we are here to unpack and elaborate on the crucial and necessary role of women in global transformational agendas and the overarching pursuance of the Sustainable Development Goals. The SDG’s, as the bedrock of all United Nations work, are much more than merely aspirational goals; these targets are the written manifestation of our joint commitment to realize the targets and in turn create a safer and more inclusive global society.

In pursuance of these goals, the United Nations and its Member States have committed, not only explicitly to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls in accordance with SDG 5, but also to recognize the crucial role that women can and must play if we are indeed serious about fostering inclusive societies.  

In this regard, the attendance of Government Dignitaries at this event is a snapshot of the progressive culture of empowering women which is refreshingly pervasive in Ethiopian society. Every day, women and girls around the world experience less opportunity than men in education and employment, and less political representation.  Ethiopia rose to this challenge with its gender-balanced cabinet - indeed a cabinet that is over 50% women is a remarkable achievement and a potent example to be followed in embracing the vital role of women in promoting development. The sheer act of involving women in meaningful decision-making environments can only lead to measures that will be pro-women, pro-poor, pro-families and pro-children. It also carries the promise of greater follow-on effects such as gender budgeting, for example. Budgets that are structured in spending and taxation to advance gender equality even further. Having a gender balanced cabinet is not only a number, it is a measure that will make a difference in people’s lives in a tangible manner - it is the promise of opportunity. The numbers are encouraging, but one cannot allow progress to breed complacency, it must be used to inspire us further to continue to push boundaries and shatter glass ceilings in all sectors. For example, whilst we continue to empower women, we must not overlook the adolescent girl who, is faced by specific and unique challenges which prevent society from harnessing the underutilized talent present in our future leaders.  It is now that we need to invest in them.  This generation holds in their hands the promise of a bright future for Ethiopia for decades to come.

As I highlight the plight and strength of women and girls, this brings me to my second point.  It is our commitment to both women and girls that brings us here today, as they are both, unfortunately, at the heart of human trafficking. This heinous crime continues to plague this region and the wider world. In a few days, the government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia will be launching the Blue Heart Campaign Against Human Trafficking. Ethiopia is a nation of leaders and once again it will lead by being the first country in Eastern Africa to join the Global Blue Heart Campaign - a movement of solidarity and advocacy. Ethiopia also leads in the scale of its commitment to this movement.  Indeed, it will be the largest launch event in the history of the Global Campaign, with over eleven thousand (11,000) people, including 8000 women, rallying around this call for action to fight human trafficking in a show of solidarity with the victims and survivors of this heinous crime. This committed and unified group will come together this Thursday at Ethiopia’s prestigious Millennium Hall and we can only hope that it will inspire and empower everyone to abstain from the culture of silence. Again, I must commend Ethiopia and thank them in advance for whole-heartedly supporting the campaign, but I also encourage you all today to become messengers and ambassadors of this noble cause - Ethiopians are not for sale - this message is simple and clear.

There is a reason for the theme of today’s breakfast - women and girls are at the centre of this heinous crime with in excess of 2/3 of all cases of human trafficking targeting them. Today we apply the principle of “nothing for us, without us”. Women need to be part of the design and implementation of interventions and services aimed at preventing and reintegrating survivors of Human Trafficking. They are disproportionately affected, they understand where systems failed them - we therefore need solutions to be tailored and inspired by their strengths and experiences. Regionally, Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 55% of all trafficking victims detected globally. With these worrying statistics in mind and taking into account the wealth of technical expertise present today, I look forward to the presentations and follow-up dialogue.

As a man, a husband and the father of two daughters, I also feel a great responsibility to listen, contribute and advocate for this crime to be curbed, and for prosecution to be successful.  This is personal to me, I hope that as you think of women and girls in your community you will feel the same urge to say, “no more - I need to be part of the prevention and the solutions”.  With that, I would like to again thank you all for your presence and will humbly conclude by borrowing a phrase from Secretary-General Guterres; “when we exclude women, everyone pays the price”. In the case of human trafficking, the price is too often measured in lives and futures permanently interrupted.

Thank you.