Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director


Briefing on the 2020 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons

  4 February 2021


Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for joining us for this presentation. I welcome the many Ambassadors and other distinguished representatives here today.

I am very grateful for the personal support and strong message of the President of the General Assembly, Ambassador Volkan Bozkır.

I thank our UNODC Goodwill Ambassador, Mira Sorvino, for being present today. We are grateful for your longstanding commitment.

I would also like to congratulate the Ambassadors of Georgia and the Philippines, who are serving as co-facilitators as we work towards the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on progress achieved in the implementation of the UN Global Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons.

UNODC looks forward to supporting you in this important function.


UNODC’s latest Global Report on Trafficking in Persons paints a picture of urgency, as the COVID-19 crisis widens disparities in our societies and deepens economic woes, leaving millions of women, children and men at risk of being trafficked.

The World Bank has estimated that up to 124 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty in 2020.

Unemployment levels continue to rise, harming women the most, as the General Assembly recognized at the recent special session on COVID-19.

The Report shows how poverty and inequality contribute to conditions ripe for traffickers to exploit and abuse. More than half of trafficking cases analyzed involved victims who were in economic need or whose families lived in extreme poverty.

Most alarmingly, the Report finds that one in every three detected victims of trafficking around the world is a child. This share has tripled in the past 15 years. Children account for half of all detected victims in low-income countries, most of them coerced into forced labour.

Now millions of youth have experienced school closures, among them 11 million girls who may never return to education. As hope in their futures erodes, these young people are more likely to find their circumstances placing them at the mercy of traffickers.

The COVID-19 crisis has made it all too clear that we must urgently accelerate efforts to prevent and tackle human trafficking, and protect victims.

Moving forward, we must redouble our efforts to address poverty and systemic inequalities.

More must be done to ensure the integrity of supply chains, to eliminate conditions conducive to trafficking and hold perpetrators accountable.

We need to leverage strong public-private partnerships to ensure that the internet does not offer means or safe havens for those who victimize the vulnerable and abuse children.

And we need to step up international cooperation and technical assistance to implement the Trafficking in Persons Protocol. Since the Protocol came into force in 2003, most Member States have put anti-trafficking legislation in place, and more traffickers are being brought to justice every year.

We need to protect and advance this progress in the current crisis. To do this, we need data and research to inform targeted responses.

UNODC’s Global Report on Trafficking in Persons steps up to this challenge as the primary resource on trafficking patterns and trends worldwide.

I hope all Member States make the best use of this latest Report. Now, more than ever, we need to come together as an anti-trafficking community that leaves no one behind.

UNODC coordinates, and in 2021 co-chairs, the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons. ICAT unites 30 international organizations to maximize synergies and impact, and we rely on your support.

This year we also look forward to the appraisal of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.

I urge Member States to use this opportunity to strengthen joint anti-trafficking action and guide UNODC’s work to address identified gaps and persisting challenges in the fight against human trafficking.

Our Office is committed to working with all of you, including through our dedicated New York Liaison Office, and through our global programmes and field network.

Last year, we supported 83 countries despite COVID-19 restrictions. This year, we are further elevating our support, building on people-centred and human-rights based approaches in line with the new UNODC strategy, which I will be launching this month.

Together, we can advance effective action, and contribute to the UN75 Declaration and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Thank you.