New York, 14 July 2014 – Human trafficking has no place in the modern world, the President of the General Assembly declared today at a special event at United Nations Headquarters ahead of the observance of the first ever World Day against Trafficking in Persons.
“Millions of people, the majority of whom are women and children, are victims of a modern form of slavery – we call it human trafficking,” John Ashe said, noting that an estimated 2.5 million people are victim to this scourge.
“Men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers both in their own countries and abroad,” he stated. “Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims.”
Funding organizations that directly assist the victims is a key instrument to providing support, said Mr. Ashe, as he encouraged all Member States to do their part in financing the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking.
“Not only is human trafficking one of the most grotesque violations of human rights, it is a lucrative crime for perpetrators,” the President pointed out. “With annual profits as high as $36 billion per year, it ranks as the world’s third most profitable crime after illicit drug and arms trafficking.”
He added that although a lot has been done to combat human trafficking, including the Assembly’s adoption in 2010 of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, much more needs to be done to help women, men and children who are trafficked into labour, sex slavery, and coerced into illegal actions.
Martin Sajdik, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), said that the Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking has already made strides in rebuilding the lives of those affected.
“We can do more and much more,” he said, “We must better understand the nature of the crime that we are trying to confront.”
Addressing the victims, he said: “You are not alone and we will support you in the return to your lives and your dignity.”
In the same vein, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a video message, stressed the need to improve the lives of trafficking victims. It is critical, he said, that all Member States finance the Voluntary Trust Fund, which supported invaluable non-governmental organizations that helped survivors get back on their feet and integrated into society.
Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said in a video message that the act of selling human beings like commodities shreds every ounce of dignity and respect.
It is hard to believe that trafficking of human beings takes place in today’s world, he stated. Even more alarming, women make up the majority – up to 60 per cent – of all trafficking victims globally and women and girls together make up 75 per cent of all victims.
He called on every country to ratify and fully implement the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime at the local, national and regional levels, as well as interlink efforts and sever the flow of laundered money. All countries even in these troubling economic times must continue to help victims and survivors, he added.
Also addressing the event was Rani Hong, a former victim of human trafficking, who at the age of seven was sold into slavery in India. “I was terrified, a little girl, with no one to answer her questions,” she said, recalling how her owner and master beat and starved her.
While it was important to recognize the accomplishments and strides made against human trafficking, there was much work to be done, she added. It had been three months since 200 girls were taken captive in Nigeria, she said, underlining the importance of sparking new conversations and solutions through social media.
In addition to other speakers and an interactive dialogue, the event also featured a performance from contemporary classic pianist Chloe Flower.