UN to launch drive against human trafficking at upcoming global forum

12 February 2008 –

The United Nations this week will convene the first global forum against human trafficking in Vienna, where some 1,200 experts, legislators, law enforcement teams, business leaders, non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives and trafficking victims are expected to launch an international campaign to combat the crime.

“The blood, sweat and tears of trafficking victims are on the hands of consumers all over the world,” said the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Antonio Maria Costa, ahead of the 13-15 February forum, explaining that the problem is so widespread within the global economic system that all share complicity.

Because of the lack of information about human trafficking, Mr. Costa called it “a monster whose shape, size and ferocity we can only guess.”

But experts agree that the scourge accompanies other unlawful activities, like illegal migration, forced labour, paedophilia, child exploitation, civil conflicts and organized prostitution.

“It’s time for the world to open its eyes to this form of modern slavery,” the UNODC chief declared.

However, he cautioned against empty platitudes. “Moral outrage is not going to stop the traffickers; we need high impact law enforcement measures to make human trafficking a riskier business.”

Forum participants will discuss practical measures to increase the effectiveness of preventing human trafficking and bringing the perpetrators to justice. Measures under consideration include tracking and blocking Internet payments for human trafficking transactions; innovative technology to pinpoint frequently used trafficking routes; help-lines to report suspected child prostitution or sex slavery; codes of conduct to curb sex tourism; improved controls on supply chain management; and efforts to stop the forced removal and trade of human organs.

Mr. Costa pointed out that global campaigns have been waged against the trade in blood diamonds, fur, and illegal timber, while efforts to stop the trade in people “lag behind.”

In addition to experts and other officials, the forum has attracted the participation of celebrities and public figures, including Suzanne Mubarak, the First Lady of Egypt; Emma Thompson, the Oscar-winning British actress; and Ricky Martin, the Grammy Award-winning Puerto Rican pop star.


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