The president of the U.N. General Assembly called Monday for redoubled efforts to tackle human trafficking, which the United Nations anti-crime agency says is a multi-billion dollar industry and one that enslaves some 2.4 million people at any given time, many of whom are children.
“Although human trafficking takes place in the dark margins of our societies, we must not ignore its presence,” Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser said in remarks to the second ministerial meeting of the Group of Friends United Against Human Trafficking.
He told the gathering, which took place on the margins of the Assembly’s 66th session, that nations must work together to end this global scourge, which ranks as the world’s third most profitable crime after illicit drug and arms trafficking.
“We must prosecute and punish the criminals involved and protect and reintegrate the victims into their communities. We must spur governments and all members of society into action to reduce the vulnerability of victims, and increase the consequences for traffickers,” he said.
The President noted that despite the proclamation in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that all humans are born free and that no one shall be held in slavery or servitude, millions of people today, the majority of them children and women, are victims of human trafficking.
He called for redoubling efforts to ensure that the rights and freedoms of every person are upheld.
“No country is unaffected. We must do better,” said the president.
He noted that a global partnership aimed at fostering good governance, debt relief and official development assistance can contribute to reducing poverty and corruption, limiting the supply and demand for trafficking.
Cross-border and international cooperation are necessary to monitor and stop child trafficking, he added.
Last year the Group of Friends turned the concerns of member states into concrete action by negotiating and passing by consensus a comprehensive U.N. global plan of action to combat trafficking in persons.
In addition, the U.N. Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking was launched to provide humanitarian, legal and financial aid to victims of human trafficking. Administered by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, it has already begun to establish a small grants facility to start distributing funds to victims.