UN Reports on Changing Face of Human Trafficking
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
story highlights

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime in partnership with the Government of France launched the ‘Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2016’ on 21 December 2016.

On 20 December, the UN Security Council convened a debate on the trafficking in persons in conflict situations.

21 December 2016: Forced labor, sham marriages and organ removal feature increasingly in the profiles of trafficking victims around the world, according to a UN global report. Also on trafficking, the UN Security Council held a debate on trafficking in conflict situations, noting that instability and terrorist activities have resulted in the trafficking of large numbers of people from war-torn nations, including many children.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in partnership with the Government of France launched the ‘Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2016’ at a high-level event at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 21 December 2016. The report provides an overview of the nature of human trafficking in 136 countries, focusing on reported cases from 2012-2014. While most victims are still women, children and men now make up a larger share of the total, compared with ten years ago. Children alone made up 28% of the total number of detected victims in 2014. Men accounted for 21% of the total, and represented 63% of victims of forced labor.

The authors suggest the growing diversity of reported cases is due to rising awareness that trafficking takes place for many purposes other than the sexual exploitation of women. Victims may work in forced labor situations as mining or fishery workers, porters, soldiers and slaves. The report also notes cases of victims who were trafficked for begging, forced or sham marriages, benefit fraud, pornography production, or organ removal. The UNODC report is the third in a series since the adoption of the 2010 Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Thomson will soon appoint facilitators for the meeting to evaluate the 2010 Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.

At the report launch, UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Peter Thomson highlighted that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development contains three targets on ending human trafficking, under SDG 5 on gender equality, SDG 8 on decent work and economic growth, and SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions. He welcomed the UNODC report as paving the way for UN Member States to evaluate the 2010 Global Plan of Action when it takes up the issue in October 2017. He announced that he will soon appoint facilitators to lead consultations and propose modalities for the October meeting.

On 20 December, the UN Security Council convened a debate on the trafficking in persons in conflict situations. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “war provides oxygen to terrorist groups,” and urged countries to provide justice to victims. He noted the plight of refugees from Syria, Iraq, Somalia and other conflict-torn countries who are now in forced labor situations. He urged countries to support the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, adopt national legislation and action plans to end human trafficking, and contribute to the relevant UN trust funds for the victims of human trafficking, and on contemporary forms of slavery. Noting that the debate likely marked his final appearance before the Council, Ban stressed the importance of advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the need to shut off trafficking as a source of funds for terrorist groups.

The Security Council debate also featured briefings from Yury Fedotov, UNODC Executive Director, and Zainab Hawa Bangura, UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Bangura deplored the brazen and brutal tactics involved in the sexual exploitation of women and girls in war. She urged all concerned to “disrupt the business of terrorism” so as to end both trafficking and violent extremism. [Ban Ki-moon’s Remarks] [Peter Thomson’s Remarks] [Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2016] [Webcast of Global Report Launch] [UN Press Release on Security Council Debate]

related posts