Dear Ambassador Koika,
Dear SRSG Maalla,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I was very keen to join this event because a child going missing is a nightmare. For every parent or grandparent, there could be nothing worse.
Keeping children safe from harm is – and must be – everybody’s business, everywhere and all the time.
So I am grateful to Greece for organizing today’s discussion on how to leverage partnerships among national authorities, healthcare facilities and civil society like Greece’s National Emergency Response Mechanism to protect children from falling victim to human trafficking.
I would also like to thank Switzerland, ICAT, the IOM and UNHCR for supporting today’s event.
Globally, more than one in three detected trafficking victims is a child. This percentage is quite scary.
Like every child, trafficked children are precious, and they deserve to be protected and treated with respect and empathy and given a chance for a dignified future.
Meanwhile, trafficking risks are growing as economic hardships, conflicts and the impacts of climate change are compelling people to flee their homes in record numbers.
According to UNHCR, by mid-2022, over 100 million people had been forcibly displaced worldwide, the largest number since World War II.
Children account for 41 percent. That’s 42 million children on the move. More than four times the population of Austria.
And at every stage of their journey, they are exposed to a heightened risk of exploitation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We must keep the spotlight on the need to end all forms of child exploitation.
So I was pleased to join the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children and the heads of IOM, UNHCR, UNICEF and the OSCE in launching an advocacy campaign today to highlight the needs of children on the move.
UNODC is committed to keeping prevention of child trafficking high on the global agenda.
We are proud to coordinate ICAT – the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons.
I am pleased that ICAT’s current co-chairs – the Office of the Special Representative, and the International Organization for Migration – are represented here today, and I thank them for their able leadership.
Strengthening efforts to prevent and stop child trafficking is one of ICAT’s overarching priorities for 2023. Its 31 institutional members are working together to develop policy guidance on preventing and combating child trafficking, including protecting unaccompanied and separated children.
Today’s discussion will definitely inform us and advance that work, and I thank you all for that.
I look forward to the next meeting of ICAT principals in November as an opportunity to further strengthen cooperation among our organizations.
And I am pleased that UNODC and the Office of the SRSG are working more closely together. We at UNODC look forward to implementing our joint Strategy and Plan of Action for addressing violence against children.
Promoting and protecting the rights of children cuts across the 2030 Agenda, and preventing child trafficking is an important element.
Member States have powerful tools in the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol on Trafficking in Persons.
UNODC, as the guardian of the Convention, is ready to support Member States through our research, our normative work and our technical assistance.
Let’s take from this CCPCJ information, experience and good practices and share them widely.