5 March 2007
Deputy Secretary-General

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Following is the text of remarks as delivered by UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro to the International Conference on Trafficking in Women and Girls, today in New York:

This year, we commemorate the bicentennial of the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.  We celebrate the fact that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.  Yet, around the world, millions of people are still deprived of their freedom.

There should be no place in the twenty-first century for forced labour or sexual exploitation.  The fact that there are forms of slavery in our world today should fill us all with shame.  As an African woman, I would add that it also fills me with rage.

Human trafficking affects us all, whether we live in countries of origin, transit or destination.  Preventing and combating it requires a comprehensive international approach.

The world is becoming more aware of the nature and extent of human trafficking, and is starting to take action.  In 2000, United Nations Member States agreed to an historic anti-trafficking Protocol that supplements the UN Convention against Organized Crime.  I urge Member States that have not done so already to ratify and implement this powerful anti-trafficking instrument.

Trafficking respects no borders, and our response requires cross-border cooperation.  Law enforcement networks must prove that they can be stronger, more connected and more efficient than criminal networks.  An equally transnational approach must apply to protecting and rescuing the victims of trafficking, particularly the most vulnerable, who are usually women and children.

Let me thank those who organized this Conference -- the Governments of Belarus and the Philippines, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and Vital Voices Global Partnership, and others who played a role.

I hope all participants will use this meeting to bolster efforts for prevention, prosecution and protection.  I hope you will strengthen the partnerships that are needed -- among Governments, non-governmental organizations, police forces, the media and the private sector.  And I encourage you to join the Global Initiative to fight Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery, which is being launched by the United Nations this year in Vienna.

Two hundred years ago, courageous men and women around the world stood up for freedom.  Today, we must do the same.  We must act together to stop a crime in our midst that deprives countless victims of their liberty, dignity and human rights.  Thank you for your important contribution to this global cause.  I wish this Conference every success.

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For information media • not an official record