On September 8 2016, The Secretary-General released a report on human trafficking, entitled “Fighting Human Trafficking in Conflict: 10 Ideas for action by the United Nations Security Council” at the United Nations Headquarters. This report provided an in-depth analysis of the inextricable network of connections between human trafficking and conflict. As such, it emphasized opportunities for concrete solutions whereby the UN Security Council could leverage its clout to strengthen international response to human trafficking in conflict zones. Back in December 2015, the Security Council held its first debate on Trafficking in Persons in Situations of Conflict and adopted a Presidential Statement which demonstrated the urgency for resolution and hence willingness for action within its framework. There are real practical and political limits to actions on their part in regards to the issue of human trafficking, but the Security Council took the commendable first step. As such, the recent September report is a positive development in the fight against global human trafficking.
CCNY NGO had the privilege to be a part of this special launch with many permanent missions of different states, experts and panelists including James Cockayne, the head of the United Nations University Office in New York and lead author of the report. The organizer kicked off the event by presenting a short video clip which featured experts addressing human trafficking issues in conflict zones, and calling on member states to increase monitoring of armed groups’ involvement in human trafficking and a new UN framework for action. Of note during the panel discussion, Mr. Cockayne highlighted the strong evidence suggesting the indispensable role of social media in both the recruitment and trading of enslaved Yazidi and other peoples in Middle East. Mr. Cockayne also made note of the 5000 persons, including women and children, from the Yazidi religious minority who are thought to have been enslaved by ISIS terrorists in Iraq. Warrick Beaver, Managing Director of Customer and Third Party Risk at Thomson Reuters highlighted the important role of the private sector in monitoring and disrupting human trafficking in conflict.
Human trafficking, forced labour and slavery have long been associated with conflict, but this ancient problem is still with us and it seems to be getting worse. The International Labour Organization estimates that global profits from forced labour surpass US $150 billion per year, indicating that slavery, forced labour and human trafficking are more profitable than the global arms trade. There is an estimation of 45.8 million people live in modern slavery as well. The impact of human trafficking is highly destructive and the issue itself is very complex. The eradication of human trafficking cannot be done overnight, but there is clearly a moment now, a huge opportunity to raise awareness. The 10 Ideas for Action by the United Nations Security Council is a global movement to fight against human trafficking and will boost development and strengthen security around the world.