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August 05, 2014

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

By Sophie Kasakove

July 30th marked the first ever UN World Day Against Trafficking in Persons by calling on the international community to end impunity for perpetrators and help victims. The Day was enacted in 2013 when the General Assembly adopted the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons and established a UN Voluntary Trust fund for victims of trafficking—in particular women and children, who make up 75 percent of all victims.

According to Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, “This first World Day against Trafficking in Persons is a call to action to end this crime and give hope to victims, who often live unrecognized among us. To stop the traffickers, we must sever funding pipelines and seize assets.”

The Secretary-General used the World Day as an opportunity to urge countries to ratify and implement the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol on Trafficking in Persons.

This Protocol, established in 2003, calls on countries to criminalize human trafficking. When the Protocol was established, less than half of the countries in the world had legislation criminalizing human trafficking. Only 11 years later, 90 percent do. However, further steps must be taken to translate this criminalization into more convictions: UNODC’s forthcoming Global Report on Trafficking in Persons shows that 15 percent of countries did not record a single conviction between 2010 and 2012, while 25 percent recorded between one and 10 convictions. The World Day against Trafficking in Persons is an opportunity to call attention to this disparity and demand greater compliance with the Protocol on Trafficking in Persons.

Other groups also used the World Day against Trafficking in Persons as an opportunity to address the international community about this issue. The sixteen member organizations of Inter-agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT) made a statement highlighting the plight of trafficked victims, identifying the demand for goods and services produced by trafficked victims as a key area for crime prevention:

No one actor can tackle demand alone. Root causes and contributing factors that fuel demand are spread across countries of origin, transit and destination, and they cannot be addressed in isolation from supply. A comprehensive response to addressing the entire trafficking chain will require the combined action of different stakeholders - States, international organizations, civil society, the private sector, employers and workers and their organizations, as well as individual citizens in their roles both as consumers and as members of society.

Like ICAT, Human Rights First is committed to engaging these various groups in the trafficking chain in the global fight on human trafficking. The World Day against Trafficking in Persons is both an opportunity to raise awareness about the plight of human trafficking victims and to celebrate the work being done by organizations and members of the private sector to combat this global problem.