14 February 2008
The first-ever global forum to fight human trafficking took place in Vienna from 13-15 February 2008. Bringing together 1,200 experts, legislators, law enforcement officials, business leaders, NGO representatives and human trafficking survivors from 116 countries, the forum provided the platform for a new campaign of coordinated action to tackle the crime.
In a rallying call to raise international awareness on the eve of the Forum, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, said that the crime is so widespread within the global economic system that we have all become complicit in it: "The blood, sweat and tears of trafficking victims are on the hands of consumers all over the world. This is a crime that shames us all."
Celebrities and public figures from across the world have been participating in the Forum. In cooperation with United Nations Office for Partnerships, Ms. Joan Rivers, a highly-regarded US actress, writer, businesswoman and jewelry designer, donated specially designed pins for the participants of the Vienna Forum. In her message Ms. Rivers thanked all participants for their commitment to ending human trafficking. She stated “Human Trafficking is a crime that shames us all, and each of us has a role to play in its abolition. I am honored to be among the supporters of the UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, and hope you will enjoy this small gift as a token of my respect and appreciation for your efforts.”
United Nations Office for Partnerships is a core partner of UNODC and supported a number of the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking events leading up to the Vienna Forum.
The Vienna Forum is part of a multi-year initiative to combat trafficking in persons: the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (also referred to as UN.GIFT). Several regional events have been taking place around the world since UN.GIFT was launched in March of 2007. The Vienna Forum is the largest and event with the widest scope, addressing human trafficking on a global scale. The Vienna Forum will focus on three key elements of human trafficking - its root causes, its social and economic impact, and the actions needed to eradicate it:
Participants of the Forum will discuss practical measures to increase the effectiveness of preventing human trafficking, protecting the survivors and bringing the perpetrators to justice. "Moral outrage is not going to stop the traffickers", warned Mr. Costa. "We need high impact law enforcement measures to make human trafficking a riskier business."
A law enforcement response, however, will not be sufficient. Organized crime requires an organized response. "If law enforcement, the private sector, NGOs, the media, and the general public work together,
we can fight back", said Mr. Costa. "Massive campaigns have been waged against the trade in blood diamonds, fur, and illegal timber. Efforts to stop the trade in people lag behind."