NEW YORK, 30 November 2006 - The head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, urged UN Member States to ensure that a major conference on human trafficking in Abu Dhabi in March 2007 produces concrete results to help end the trade in human beings.
The Government of the United Arab Emirates will host the Abu Dhabi Global Initiative to End Trafficking in Persons from 26-28 March 2007, with the support of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) and UNODC.
Around 1,000 representatives from government, NGOs and other bodies will attend what is expected to be the largest ever conference on human trafficking.
Mr Costa, the UNODC Executive Director, said in a speech in New York that the trade in human beings for exploitation in forced labour or the sex trade was thriving because it was lucrative. Firm action was needed to curb demand.
"Moral outrage is not going to stop the traffickers," he said.
"We need to change their risk and return balance, lowering their incentives to trade and increasing the threat of retribution. That means less demand for the products and services of exploited people: no cheap labour-intensive goods, no sex holidays, no conflict diamonds or pearls, no free toxic waste disposal, no inexpensive home services."
The UNODC Executive Director urged all United Nations Member States to implement the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
"117 States have signed the Protocol and 110 have ratified it. But this is only a well-meaning piece of paper unless it is implemented," he added.
Mr Costa said the Abu Dhabi Initiative was part of the global momentum that was building against trafficking in persons. "Greater attention to this modern form of slavery is spurring people and States to act," he said.
"There have been conferences that have changed the world's views on development assistance, the conditions of women, or the danger of the AIDS pandemic. So I urge you to attend and propose concrete initiatives to make the Abu Dhabi meeting the anti-slavery counterpart of these successful events."
Among other outcomes, Mr Costa said he hoped the Abu Dhabi conference would lead to the establishment of a "clearing house" for internationally comparable data on trafficking in persons. "At the moment we all are in a statistical fog," he added.
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