The United Nations General Assembly held a high-level meeting on Monday to discuss efforts in combating human trafficking. Egypt’s chief delegate to the UN in Geneva, Hisham Badr, delivered a statement to the General Assembly on behalf of the government in which he “stressed the importance of international and regional cooperation in the fight against human trafficking”.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Badr warned the General Assembly of the danger of the spread of such crimes that contribute to the growing contemporary forms of slavery, calling it “incompatible with the simplest norms of universal human rights”.
Badr said there is a need for concerted efforts from the international community to combat the funding of human trafficking operations through the implementation of the Global Plan of Action (GPA), adopted by the General Assembly in 2010.
The GPA was adopted by the General Assembly in the hopes it would pressure member states to take “coordinated and consistent measures to try to defeat the scourge”, the UN reported in 2010.
Badr told the assembly it should also strengthen the international commitment to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (UN TIP Protocol) adopted in 2000 and ratified by 154 member states as of March.
He also spoke on efforts made by Egypt on a national level to combat human trafficking, which includes the establishment of a national committee tasked to combat the phenomenon in 2007. This committee, Badr said, involves several organs of the state and is tasked with creating “tough legal frameworks to criminalise and punish such crimes” and to strengthen security services’ ability to confront such crimes.
In October 2012, conservative members of Egypt’s parliament had scrapped an article in the constitution which aimed at combating child trafficking. The Salafi parliamentarians argued human trafficking does not exist in Egypt and therefore laws regarding it were not needed in the constitution.
Badr spoke of the “five pillars” of the war against human trafficking; commitment and political will, continued evaluation and revision of existing mechanism, strengthening of cooperation at an international and regional level, coordination with the relevant agencies and authorities and the involvement of all other parties involved, which includes private institutions from the civil society.
There is a need to hone the international will to fight human trafficking through an integrated strategy of cooperation in the implementation of upstream countries along the NileRiver, Badr said. He added that cooperation would lead to an increase in awareness and the exchange of information would contribute to the overall understanding of how human traffickers operate. This in turn would aid in the efforts to eliminate human trafficking and ensure the prosecution of those involved in such crimes.
The statement stressed that one of the fundamental aspects in addressing the root causes of that crime is to strengthen international cooperation to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, particularly the eradication of poverty in the countries where human trafficking originates. The reduction of poverty, according to Badr, would reduce the opportunities for the exploitation of the victims of organised criminal networks.
The UN estimates 2.4 million people are victims of the $32bn human trafficking industry. These victims are pushed into forced labour and domestic servitude, sexual work and serve as child soldiers.
“No effort must be spared to bring to an end the servitude of millions, while helping the survivors rebuild their lives,” General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic said during the opening of the two-day meetings.
“To achieve this, law enforcement officials, border control officers, labour inspectors, consular and embassy officials, judges and prosecutors, as well as peacekeepers, must not only increase their vigilance, but be further sensitised to the needs of victims,” Jeremic stressed.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report published in December 2012 nearly one third of all victims of human trafficking detected around the world between 2007 and 2010 were children.
Yury Fedotov, UNODC executive director, called on member states of the assembly that have yet to ratify the UN protocols and conventions to do so in order for it to be implemented universally.
“This modern form of slavery creates millions of victims,” Fedotov said on Monday. “So far, 175 states are parties to the Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and 154 to the Trafficking in Persons Protocol. Fifteen countries have ratified the protocol since the adoption of the Global Plan of Action in July 2010.”