Director General/Executive Director
28 October 2016
Ladies and Gentlemen,
My thanks to the permanent missions of Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Slovenia and Austria for organizing this special event on countering human trafficking.
The occasion offers a welcome opportunity for us to examine the global efforts being undertaken against human trafficking ahead of the 2017 General Assembly appraisal of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.
At the heart of these activities is the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its protocol on trafficking in persons, but also the Convention's protocol on migrant smuggling.
Today's meeting is also timely because it follows last week's Eighth Session of the Conference of Parties to the Palermo Convention , as well as the September Summit for Refugees and Migrants.
Both events have helped strengthen the use of the Palermo Convention.
The vital importance of action against the traffickers has also been magnified in recent years due to the world's agreement on the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
Targets such as Goal Sixteen point two, calling for an end to trafficking and all forms of violence against children; Goal Eight point seven, on taking effective measures against human trafficking; and Goal Five point two, on the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, provide the essential underpinning for direct action.
These targets deliver a clear message to the world's criminals that the focus on crime is no longer on the periphery of building sustainable development.
It is moving centre stage, and is increasingly being recognised as a significant barrier to the achievement of the sustainable development goals.
UNODC's forthcoming Global Report on Trafficking in Persons shows that, in general, the human trafficking flows follow the main migratory routes.
Trafficking victims detected in every region are, for the most part, foreign to the country in which they are detected.
Most tragically, and highlighting their vulnerability, nearly 80 per cent of all detected trafficking victims are women and children.
The fate of people, trapped by inhuman traffickers in a net of violence, abuse and exploitation, strongly motivates our work.
As a catalyst for these efforts, countries need to ensure the clear and unambiguous implementation of the Palermo Convention and its human trafficking protocol.
After all, we have achieved almost universal ratification of the Convention. However, real and distinct challenges exist in the area of implementation.
Our goal must be to encourage countries to fully apply the Convention, and create a solid and efficient network of operations, information sharing and mutual legal assistance designed to eliminate human trafficking.
Allow me to outline three immediate responses that need to be taken by countries under the Convention and its protocol:
We must also go after the money. Traffickers should never be allowed to reap immense profits from pain, misery and suffering.
Tangible success can only come through a greater focus on resource allocation, including a strategic shift towards targeting the criminal networks, while safeguarding and protecting victims.
Tackling human trafficking is not a simple or trivial pursuit.
It takes massive amounts of commitment and dedication, the expenditure of thousands of police hours, protracted legal actions, and often cross border investigations galvanized by intelligence sharing, and joint operations.
The blueprint exists within the provisions of the Palermo protocol, and they offer an opportunity to seal any cracks in international law enforcement that could allow the guilty to go free.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, I am proud that one hundred and eighty seven countries have adopted the Convention, and one hundred and fifty seven countries have signed the protocol. But, it is not enough.
We want to live in a world where human trafficking no longer exists. If we are to do this, we must unite and deliver effective and efficient action on the ground to achieve this goal.
This means more cooperation, more political commitment, more determination to arrest, detain and prosecute the guilty perpetrators.
I, therefore, urge countries to intensify their work. UNODC will continue to offer the necessary support so that, one day, the elimination of this cruel crime becomes a reality.