Today, the Missions to the United Nations of the United States, Peru, and Sierra Leone co-sponsored an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations and the 20th anniversary of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. The Protocol – a legally binding international instrument supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime with near universal ratification – defines trafficking in persons and sets out a comprehensive framework for responding to this crime using the approach of prosecution, protection, and prevention.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E. Biegun and Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Ghada Waly were among the featured speakers. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft opened the event as co-host. Ambassador-at-Large John Cotton Richmond moderated the panel discussion featuring the Vice President of Sierra Leone, the Attorney General of Peru, the Founding Director of Minderoo Foundation, and the Executive Director of Survivor Alliance.
The event celebrated several notable achievements in combating trafficking in persons since the adoption of the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol and identified challenges ahead:
- Near universal ratification with 178 Parties.
- Over the last 20 years, approximately 150 countries have adopted anti-trafficking laws.
- The UN established the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children in 2004.
- The UN General Assembly adopted the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons in 2010 which complements the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol and other relevant international anti-trafficking instruments. While at least 10 regional organizations adopted instruments or action plans to combat trafficking in persons.
- The UN Inter-Agency Coordination Group Against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT) was established in 2007 as a policy forum mandated by the UNGA to improve coordination among UN agencies and other relevant international organizations to facilitate a holistic and comprehensive approach to preventing and combating trafficking in persons. ICAT now includes 27 agencies and organizations.
- Governments must expand their efforts to identify victims. In 2019, data compiled for the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report indicated that only 118,932 trafficking victims were identified globally, while an estimated 24.9 million victims exist. This represents less than half a percent of all victims in the world.
- Governments must end state-sponsored forced labor.
- Governments must improve access to comprehensive care for trafficking victims of all forms of human trafficking and ensure that they are not punished for crimes their traffickers compel them to commit.
The event highlighted the importance of diverse partnerships and the work of UNODC and other international organizations to assist governments and civil society organizations. The event explored next steps all Member States can take to improve efforts across the framework of prosecution, protection, and prevention and support survivor-led anti-trafficking initiatives.