3 April 2012
Secretary-General
SG/SM/14212
GA/11220

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

Secretary-General, at General Assembly Dialogue on Human Trafficking, Violence


against Women, Stresses Need to Make Such Crimes ‘Unprofitable and Untenable’


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the General Assembly Interactive Dialogue “Fighting Human Trafficking:  Partnership and Innovation to End Violence against Women”, in New York on 3 April:


This is an impressive crowd of experts.  Many of you have devoted your careers to ending human trafficking.  I am especially honoured that we are joined today by Rani Hong and Somaly Mam.  Ms. Hong founded the Tronie Foundation with her husband.  Both were victims of trafficking.  Both have used their experience to stop this crime and help others heal.  They are truly inspiring.


Ms. Mam also endured terrible atrocities.  Not only was she the victim of human trafficking, but after she escaped, her daughter was kidnapped as well.  It is quite possible that the kidnappers were targeting Somaly’s family because she is fighting against them.  When Ms. Mam was reunited with her daughter, who had been raped by her captors, she said:  “You’ve suffered what you’ve suffered.  Now you take that pain and you help others.”


These distinguished guests were victims of human trafficking, but they are much more than that.  They are heroes.  They are charging back into a fire they escaped — a fire that burns childhoods and destroys lives — to pull others out.  They are witnessing living nightmares that most people would rather not think about, but that all of you in this room are willing to confront.  I thank everyone here for your participation today, especially the President of the General Assembly, the Group of Friends United against Human Trafficking, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.


We need everyone to win this battle, from activists to actresses, like Ms. [Mira] Sorvino.  We may come from different angles, but we are moving in the same direction thanks to our common compass.  That compass is human rights.  National responses to this problem must be aligned with international human rights standards.  I call on all States to adhere to the treaties that aim to stop human trafficking, especially the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.


This General Assembly has developed a strong Global Plan of Action to combat trafficking in persons.  Other human rights instruments can also point the way towards progress, notably the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.


Where traffickers are using threats and weapons, we must respond with laws and prosecutions.  At the same time, we have to take a broad view of the factors that feed trafficking.  Only the worst, most abject poverty could force a family to sell their child for a few dollars.  We have to help all those who live in such desperate conditions.  They need more than simple promises — they need social protections.  Success demands that we bring more poor people, especially women, into discussions on how to help them.


Trafficking is linked to migration.  Women are lured out of their homes and countries with false promises.  They are stripped of their passports, their dignity and their personal security.  To protect people from such exploitation, countries have to coordinate their labour and migration policies.


But coordination has to move past policy papers and into people’s lives.  I welcome this Dialogue’s focus on closing the gap between commitments and actions.  Far too many women and girls fall through the cracks and land in the unscrupulous arms of traffickers.


But I have to be clear.  It will take resources to build a bridge from words to deeds.  I encourage all countries and people to contribute to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Human Trafficking, which provides crucially important legal and financial aid to victims.  I urge all partners to come together through this Fund — the Governments, international organizations, civil society groups, businesses and individuals who already support this cause, and those who I hope will join us.


These crimes are often described as unthinkable and unspeakable.  It is our shared responsibility to think and speak about them.  Above all, we must make them unprofitable and untenable.


Human traffickers have no place in the world we are striving to build; let us make sure they have no way to operate.


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For information media • not an official record