Yury Fedotov

Director-General/Executive Director


Vienna, 20 June 2011


Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentleman,

My sincere thanks to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe for inviting me to speak. Your cooperative spirit has often benefited UNODC and UN.GIFT and our many joint activities, in particular human trafficking.

Thank you Dr. Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, OSCE Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings. Your invaluable work helps us all.

Trafficking in persons is a global challenge demanding a global response, strong partnerships and the commitment and engagement of all sectors. Only through international cooperation can we stop criminals making grotesque profits from the exploitation of human beings.

We need to make global migration and the global labor markets safe for those who dream of a new life. Indeed, this is why human trafficking is so destructive to human dignity. It takes ordinary people's dreams for a better life and turns them into nightmares.

Ladies and Gentleman, let us start with the outcome of our own efforts to gather information from Member States: trafficking in persons for forced labour is the second most reported form of exploitation. But, we share with all of you a concern that this form of trafficking is less frequently detected and reported than trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation.

We must also challenge the lack of visibility of trafficking in persons for forced labour. Too often, forced labor is hidden from public view or the victim is so ashamed or psychologically damaged he or she is unable to discuss the experience.

Such lack of visibility exists around the world. Victims are often invisible, voiceless, forced to survive on society's margins. According to the International Labour Office, at least 2.4 million people are exploited as the result of human trafficking. Individuals are often driven by poverty and migration to accept the offers of criminals who take advantage of their vulnerability and exploit them in terrible conditions. Many are children. Their tiny hands mend fishing nets, create luxury goods and harvest cocoa.

Cooperation is fundamental to combating the exploitation of women, children and men by human traffickers. But, cooperation is only the start! We need legal, social and economic anti-trafficking strategies. And we need the political will to act.

UNODC is helping to shine a powerful light on this crime. Working with others, we are developing clear strategies to meet government and civil society concerns.

In doing so, UNODC brings a unique criminal justice approach. As guardian of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, we have a ready made legal framework for international cooperation and the prevention of human trafficking. Thanks to the convention, through cooperation, police no longer have to stop at frontiers, while criminals cross them freely.

We should also not forget how human trafficking relates to instability. When social and political upheaval exists, as in North Africa at present, our work is even more important in such turbulent and disordered regions.

If we are to address human trafficking in these conditions development and security are fundamental. For this reason, we should join forces and integrate our efforts into the wider agenda of multilateralism on development and stability. In this context UNODC is working with the policy committee to mainstream transnational organized crime into the wider agenda of the UN.

Although much of our work focuses on the traffickers, the victims must not be forgotten. Indeed, they should be the chief concern of everyone. Member States recognised this and adopted the Global Plan of Action to combat trafficking in persons. The Global Plan led to the creation of the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for the Victims of Trafficking in Persons which is managed by the UNODC. The fund enables key actors to help victims; in particular, women and children.

It is important that the whole international community commits to making this Fund a real opportunity for victims of trafficking in persons. I would urge you to donate to the Fund.

The ethos of this Alliance in which we are all gathered today is to create effective joint strategies and a common agenda. OSCE participating States and Partners for Cooperation are harmonizing their actions and using the same decision-making aids. UNODC wholeheartedly endorses this approach and is proud to be part of this Alliance.

With millions of people suffering from this global crime, we must act urgently. The victims demand it. We must review the data, develop the processes and encourage national laws to prosecute those who exploit human beings.

Ladies and Gentlemen, what we say today, we must be prepared to do tomorrow.

Thank you for listening to me.