Heinous, Fast-Growing Crimes of Human, Drug Trafficking Will Continue to Ravage World’s Economies without Coordinated Global Action, Third Committee Told
Heinous, Fast-Growing Crimes of Human, Drug Trafficking Will Continue to Ravage World’s Economies without Coordinated Global Action, Third Committee Told
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
7th Meeting (AM)
Heinous, Fast-Growing Crimes of Human, Drug Trafficking Will Continue to Ravage
World’s Economies without Coordinated Global Action, Third Committee Told
Speakers Say Steps Needed by Source, Transit, Destination Countries Alike,
As Two-Day Debate on Crime Prevention, International Drug Control Concludes
Trafficking in persons and illicit drugs were two of the most heinous forms of transnational organized crime and they would continue to ravage the world’s economies without holistic and coordinated action by source, transit and destination countries alike, delegates in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) said today, as they wrapped up their two-day discussion on crime prevention and international drug control.
Human trafficking, in particular, was among the fastest-growing criminal activities, speakers said, with thousands of women, men and children trafficked for sexual or labour exploitation each year. Gang networks operated smoothly across borders, easily adapting to changing ground conditions and circumventing national law enforcement intended to blunt their efforts.
Many speakers argued for better implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime – or the “Palermo Convention” – and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons. Others voiced support for convening a high-level General Assembly meeting in 2013 to review the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, adopted in 2010 to integrate the fight against human trafficking into the United Nations broader development and security programmes.
“We must unite to combat the gruesome reality of modern day slavery,” said Albania’s delegate, underlining that an estimated one-third of victims each year were trafficked for labour purposes, and one-fourth for a mixture of labour and sexual exploitation. Human trafficking was a global criminal business that required collective action.
Malaysia’s delegate, on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), pointed out that criminal justice responses to transnational organized crime – laws, law enforcement agencies, prosecution services and courts – generally operated within national borders. Those limits challenged States ability to effectively respond. “We are seriously committed to and will spare no effort to address and eventually eradicate the problem,” she said, noting that trafficking in persons was one of the eight priority areas identified in the ASEAN Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime.
The international drug problem was equally pernicious, delegates said, and required stepped up legislative efforts by producer and consumer countries, as well as programmes for creating alternatives to illicit crop growing.
Peru’s delegate said cocoa leaf production was an income generator for thousands of Peruvians who did not have an alternative source of income. The Government was trying to involve farmers in alternative livelihoods. But, he pointed out that separating the efforts of producer and consumer countries had not worked. “It takes two to tango” he said, calling for a holistic approach involving all States and the application of the rule of law nationally and internationally.
Bolivia’s delegate agreed, noting that his country was a transit country for cocoa to Brazil, Europe and other markets. Between 2006 and 2007, Bolivia had seized more cocoa than in previous years and was working to fight drug trafficking. But, he urged the United Nations to take a greater role in combating the scourge, especially vis-à-vis the banking sector and doing away with tax havens that allowed for criminal drug activities.
In a similar vein, South Africa’s delegate said his country had become a hub for cocaine and heroine shipments destined for illicit markets in other parts of the world. It also was a destination country for those drugs, with cocaine having risen to a “drug of choice”. He was concerned by the growing links among drug trafficking, money laundering, corruption and terrorism, and urged that regional capacity in the area of criminal justice be enhanced in the fight against transnational organized crime.
Driving home the severity of the problems at large, Viet Nam’s delegate said the global value of illicit trafficking in drugs, people, firearms and natural resources had hit an estimated $1.4 trillion annually, with profits from drug trafficking alone at $322 billion. “These numbers are increasing”, she said. Crime prevention and criminal justice must be mainstreamed into the post-2015 development agenda.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Libya, Senegal, Russian Federation, Venezuela, Maldives, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, India, Tunisia, Sudan, Indonesia, Eritrea and Uganda.
Representatives of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and International Organization for Migration (IOM) also spoke.
The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 15 October, to begin its consideration of the advancement of women.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to continue and conclude its discussion on crime prevention and international drug control.
NORLIZA ABDUL RAHIM (Malaysia), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said cooperation in her region on transnational crime took place within the framework of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime. In line with the Secretary-General’s recommendations, ASEAN had taken actions to enhance regional and international cooperation in that area, especially vital in realizing a rules-based ASEAN Community in 2015. The region had recognized the threat posed by terrorism in the early 1990s, which led to the creation of a regional counter-terrorism convention to complement the United Nations Global Strategy on Counter-Terrorism. ASEAN was the first region to develop such an instrument.
She went on to condemn in the strongest terms the heinous crime of human trafficking. “We are seriously committed to and will spare no effort to address and eventually eradicate the problem,” she insisted. That determination was reflected in work to implement the ASEAN Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime, adopted in 2002, which identified trafficking in persons as one of eight priority areas of transnational crime. In addition, all ASEAN Members had taken part in the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime, since its 2002 inception. Turning to drugs, she said ASEAN had advocated a collective regional response to drug abuse and illegal drug trafficking since 1972, an approach that was strengthened in July 2000, when foreign ministers agreed to advance the target year for realizing a drug free region from 2020 to 2015.
At the political level, there was undoubted support for improving the region’s security and stability by dealing with the illicit drugs threat, she said, noting, however, that the ability to gather data and produce evidence-based assessments was a challenge. She had noted concerns in the Secretary-General’s report on the need for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to strengthen the collection and dissemination of accurate and comparable data on drug trends. Also, criminal justice responses to transnational crime – laws, law enforcement agencies, prosecution services and courts – generally only operated within national borders. The limits of national systems posed a significant challenge to States ability to effectively respond. Much more must be done to reverse the rising trend of transnational crime.
Ms. SALIM ( Libya) said combating illicit drugs was a common international responsibility. Transnational organized crime obstructed development and human trafficking by criminal groups was a twenty-first century scourge that had been exacerbated by impunity and insecurity throughout the world. Recent events in Libya had created a number of problems, including security issues, a main cause of which was the lack of law enforcement equipped to control trans-border transit, since the army was still being set up. Smuggling of humans, drugs and weapons was an illegitimate revenue source. “We are still building a new Libya,” she said. Transnational crime required bilateral and multilateral solutions to complement national efforts.
For its part, Libya had held a regional conference on border security last March, she said, which produced the Tripoli Declaration for Transborder Activity, setting out common structures for cooperation and information exchange. Among Libya’s priorities was to guarantee its rights to recover money stolen from the treasury, hidden abroad and used to finance terrorist activities within the country. She called on all States to help Libya recover those funds. Corruption must end and she urged financial institutions to take up their responsibilities and not accept stolen funds from “the tyrants from the Third World”. Libya was a member of United Nations Convention against Corruption. In sum, she welcomed the General Assembly’s initiative to hold a high-level meeting on the follow-up and monitoring of progress of the International Plan of Action on Human Trafficking in 2013.
FATOU ISIDORA MARA NIANG ( Senegal) said drug trafficking involved well-structured networks and generated multidimensional threats. Bold measures must be taken or that growing scourge would wipe out development efforts, jeopardizing the fragile social balances in many countries. Efforts to combat crimes fuelled by drug trafficking, human trafficking and money laundering must take into account the many aspects involved. Intensified international efforts to combat drug trafficking and transnational crime had improved the international legal system, with the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime — or “Palermo Convention” - and the 2003 Convention against Corruption.
In the same vein, regional and subregional efforts had been made, she said, citing the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional Plan of Action for 2008 to 2011 to combat transnational organized crime. In 2006, ECOWAS had adopted the Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons. “This is a glimmer of hope” in stemming the tide of weapons in West Africa, she said. Alongside that progress, however, mafia groups had taken advantage of information and communications technologies, a situation that must be addressed by dealing with the root causes of such abuse, including poverty and political and social instability. Actions also must focus on better national, regional and international coordination.
ROMAN BRYKOV ( Russian Federation) said his country thought it was necessary to establish a single anti–criminal strategy and enshrine it in the agencies of the United Nations. In 2015, the Russian Federation would host the Conference of States parties to the Convention against Corruption. His country had also recently prepared a draft law monitoring the expenditures of civil servants, and supported global coordination for the return of stolen assets. His country also wished to step up efforts to stop cyber-crime and establish a legal framework in that area by adopting an international convention on the problem.
The situation the world community faced in combating the global drugs threat was worrisome, he said. He was committed to strengthening the international regime against the drug threat, and noted the urgent need for countries to meet the goals laid out in international conventions, and also ensure that UNODC had adequate resources. He supported the efforts of the UNODC in Afghanistan and surrounding countries, and supported the Paris Pact on Combating the Illicit Traffic in Opiates Originating in Afghanistan. An important element in addressing Afghan drugs, which was a threat to international peace and security, was Security Council resolution 1817 aimed at cutting off drug precursors to Afghanistan. He noted that his country was particularly concerned about the spread of synthetic drugs, and that issue required urgent attention.
VERONICA CALCINARI ( Venezuela) said the war on drugs must be taken on jointly, involving both producer and consumer countries, and based on the principle of shared responsibility. That cooperation must be in the spirit of the United Nations Charter and international law, with respect for territory and mutual respect for States sovereignty. Responsibility for the global drug problem fell to the General Assembly and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs; the Security Council had “no competence whatsoever to address illicit drug trafficking”.
Venezuela had taken steps to ensure there was no sanctuary for drug traffickers in its region, she continued. The World Drug Report recognized that Venezuela, for the sixth consecutive year, was a country free of illicit drugs and a leader in drug seizures. It had arrested 90 heads of criminal organizations responsible for illicit drug trafficking, including Colombian Daniel Barrera, who had been one of the most wanted drug traffickers for the last 20 years. Her Government expressed a categorical rejection of unilateral reports that politicized and undermined efforts against drug trafficking. Further, it had stepped up regional cooperation against the drug scourge, with the view of implementing its own and sovereign policies. Broad success against drugs was thanks to sovereignty of policies and cooperation.
ZENYSHA SHAHEED ZAKI ( Maldives) said that, as a tourism-driven economy, the Maldives was extremely vulnerable to drug trafficking and transnational organized crime. While it did not produce or cultivate drugs, its close proximity to major transhipment routes used for illegal trafficking had made the problem all the more serious. “It is our firm belief that the global fight against illicit narcotics should remain focused on protecting human security through enhanced public health,” she said, noting that her country’s approach to drug abuse — treating abusers as criminals — had proven unsustainable. Supporting the Secretary-General’s recommendation to treat dependence as a health disorder rather than a crime, she said the Maldives had made use of data, including the annual World Drug Report to support programmes that addressed human development vulnerabilities.
She went on to say that, as a small island developing State, the Maldives faced challenges in institutionalizing the necessary framework to ensure that accountability, transparency and the rule of law were established. In September, her Government announced a number of commitments to strengthen the rule of law at the national and international levels, pledging to accede to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols by 2014. Human trafficking and migrant smuggling posed one of the most serious challenges and the Maldives condemned, in the strongest terms, such deplorable activities. Maritime piracy was another major concern, and the Maldives supported all international efforts to fight it.
ABDUL MOMEN ( Bangladesh) said human trafficking was among the most heinous forms of organized crime and required concerted efforts by source, transit and destination countries. As a source and transit country, Bangladesh prioritized combating human trafficking. It was a State party to all major international and human rights instruments, the Palermo Convention being the most recent one. Bangladesh had also promulgated many laws, and recently had enacted the Human Trafficking Deterrence and Suppression Act 2012, making it fully compliant with international standards.
He went on to say that Bangladesh’s long, porous border made the country vulnerable to drug trafficking. Bangladesh was party to all major drug related conventions and, nationally, had taken a three-prong approach to reduce supply, demand and harm caused by that problem. Rehabilitation centres offered skill development and vocational training to recovering drug addicts. Supply-side reduction was essential for fighting drug abuse, notably through alternative development programmes. On the demand side, awareness-raising was needed. As for terrorism, Bangladesh followed a “zero tolerance” policy. The Government would like to see a holistic approach to the global fight against terrorism.
NURBEK KASYMOV ( Kyrgyzstan) said drug addiction and illicit drug trafficking were subjects of particular concern to his country, as it was located in the shipment route from Afghanistan. Only a consistent long-term strategy would reduce the drugs trade, and to that end Kyrgyzstan had adopted a framework to combat trafficking. Strengthening regional cooperation between the countries of Central Asia was of particular importance to Kyrgyzstan; the regional programme to support those efforts, to be launched in December 2012, should play a key role in helping States combat the destabilizing effects of drug trafficking.
Welcoming the efforts of the UNODC, he said technical support from the Office made significant inroads in combating the threat of the spread of drug trafficking. The drug business had a negative impact on the real heart of the Kyrgyzstan economy, and was undermining achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Overcoming that situation required taking emergency measures to break the drug trade. The influence of transnational crime should be duly taken into account when considering the United Nations post-2015 development agenda. Also, corruption was a particular threat to the development of any country, including Kyrgyzstan, and negatively affected development. To eradicate the phenomenon, international projects and agreements needed to be properly implemented, so that countries could achieve their full potential.
DHARMENDRA YADAV ( India) said his country was alarmed by the reported increase in non-medical use of prescription drugs and the abuse of new psychoactive substances, which were not under international control. Clearly, the international community needed to reinvigorate its efforts in the campaign against drug trafficking, one of the most severe challenges that confronted humankind today. “That the money from drug trafficking finances other forms of criminal activity, including terrorism and transnational organized crime, is well-documented. There is a deep-rooted nexus between drug mafias, arms dealers and money launderers,” he said.
Effectively combating the global scourge of terrorism required the necessary political will of Member States and greater international and regional cooperation, he said. It was high time to conclude the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism to strengthen the normative framework against the increasingly sophisticated and globalized terrorist challenge. India was also deeply concerned about new emerging areas, such as cyber-crime, economic fraud, education-related fraud and identity theft, and their links with other criminal and terrorist activities. His delegation reaffirmed the mandate to conduct a comprehensive study to on how to respond to cyber-crime. It was necessary to have greater international coordination among law enforcement and criminal justice institutions; greater emphasis was also needed on capacity building and technical assistance to deal with new and emerging forms of crime.
ERVIN NINA ( Albania) said human trafficking was among the most shameful manifestations of organized crime and one of the fastest-growing criminal activities. Each year, thousands of women, men and children were victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. While trafficking of women and girls for sexual services had long been recognized as a serious problem, attention should be paid to trafficking of persons in mainstream economic sectors, as it was estimated that one-third of all victims worldwide were trafficked for labour purposes, while one-fourth for a mixture of labour and sexual exploitation. He supported the General Assembly’s adoption of a global action plan to tackle human trafficking and creation of a trust fund for victims.
Human trafficking was a global criminal business and collective efforts were needed to combat it, he continued. Albania was strongly committed to implementing the Palermo Protocol and the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, as a basis for international cooperation. In line with those instruments, Albania’s approach to human trafficking focused on prevention, prosecution of criminals and protection of victims. Albania also had a national referral mechanism to identify and protect victims. To improve the legal framework, Albania had proposed a scheme to compensate victims and improve the criminal procedural code. “We must unite to combat the gruesome reality of modern day slavery,” he asserted.
ENRIQUE ROMÁN-MOREY ( Peru) said drug trafficking was linked to organized crime and, in many countries, terrorism. Drug trafficking must be combated in a coordinated manner. Legislative and preventive measures, and programmes for alternative development were needed. Specifically, cocoa leaf production was an income generator for thousands of people who did not have an alternative. In Peru’s fight against illegal cocoa crops, it tried to involve farmers in alternative development. It was working to meet its obligations under the 2009 UNODC plan of action on reducing and eliminating illicit cocoa crops.
Further, at the International Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Heads of Specialized National Agencies against the World Drug Problem, held in Lima in June, 61 participating countries adopted the Lima Declaration, which outlined multilateral, regional and other approaches to reduce the supply and demand of illicit drugs on the basis of shared, common responsibilities. It focused on eliminating illicit crops and guaranteeing the availability of psychotropic drugs and substances for scientific purposes, but prohibiting their illegal use. Also, in November, Peru would host an international conference on alternative development, jointly organized with Thailand. Peru was looking for new approaches to combat the drug issue. Separating the efforts of producer and consumer countries had not worked. “It takes two to tango” he said, calling for a holistic approach involving all States and the application of the rule of law nationally and internationally.
AMIRA DALI ( Tunisia) said to fight the mobility of criminals, States should identify appropriate multilateral efforts, consolidate resources available to police services and consolidate civil society to effectively bring greater awareness about the problem. She appealed to the international community to also aid in the recovery of Tunisian assets embezzled by the former leader of the country and his family, which were needed by Tunisia’s people for the socio-economic development of the country during its transition to democracy.
Fully functioning and effective justice systems helped neutralize crime and bring lasting development, and Tunisia had undertaken many reforms since the 14 January revolution. It had established a national commission to investigate corruption and embezzlement, created a post of Minister of Governance, which was responsible for policies to combat corruption, and drew up legislation with input from civil society and relevant stakeholders. With a strong determination to break from the past, Tunisia was working on a new Constitution and was determined to consolidating principles of international law in all its elements.
MOHAMED IBRAHIM MOHAMED ELBAHI (Sudan) said the UNODC report addressed terrorism as a threat to the entire world, and set out a number of measures to combat terrorism, including technical assistance. Sudan agreed with the report, but there was a need to find a formula to define terrorism as an international crime. Cooperation also needed to be strengthened on the issue, he said, calling for consolidation of technical assistance to developing countries to help them deal with terrorist threats. Sudan was undertaking tremendous efforts to combat money laundering and organ trafficking and other worrying transnational crimes. He highlighted a tripartite agreement with Chad and the Central African Republic, which had helped them deploy troops to check the borders for any infiltration of crime.
Sudan had also recently published a report on its efforts to eradicate human trafficking, which included ratifying international instruments and other national programmes aimed at protecting all aspects of society. The delegation wished to reaffirm that Sudan firmly supported all international measures to fight transnational crimes in all its forms, which required sustained cooperation and coordination among all nations. Any approach must take into account the economic factors involved, as well as the root cause, which was primarily poverty.
NGUYEN CAM LINH ( Viet Nam), aligning with ASEAN, said the last decade had seen unprecedented growth in the illicit trafficking of drugs, people, firearms and natural resources. The global value of such trade had hit an estimated $1.4 trillion annually, with profits from drug trafficking alone at $322 billion. “These numbers are increasing”, she said. Organized crime and drugs were particularly devastating in weak, vulnerable countries. Countering the problem must form part of the development agenda, and she supported mainstreaming crime prevention and criminal justice into the post-2015 development agenda.
She pointed out that Viet Nam was located in the Golden Triangle, a convenient place for transporting drugs to third countries. Traffickers were employing increasingly ingenious methods, more diverse routes, and forming more illegal transport rings. Prevention was among Viet Nam’s priorities, with the Prime Minister recently adopting the national strategy for drug control and prevention until 2020. In Viet Nam, more than 70 per cent of drug addicts were youth and people under 30 years old, making education and raising awareness about illicit drugs a key Government task. Job creation for former drug addicts was another focus.
AHMAD ARIEF ADNAN (Indonesia), also aligning with ASEAN, said he was committed to working with the international community to combat emerging crimes, such as cyber-crime, illicit trafficking in cultural property and forest products and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing practices. Combating corruption was also among the highest priorities and Indonesia had voluntarily taken part in the review mechanisms of the Convention against Corruption with full participation of all national stakeholders. Its participation in the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative had been an important part of that fight. As for human trafficking, he said Indonesia supported a variety of global and regional efforts, including the United Nations Global Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons.
He said international efforts to address that menace should focus on enhancing law enforcement. Regionally, countries participating in the Bali Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Human Trafficking and Related Transnational Crimes had committed to monitoring origin, transit and destination countries, which should be a potent weapon against that problem. Indonesia’s counter-terrorism efforts involved promoting moderation and tolerance and strengthening law enforcement. Indonesia also facilitated regional capacity building and information-sharing programmes through the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation. Finally, he said a holistic approach was needed to combat the global drug problem. Indonesia was working to prevent illicit trafficking in drugs and psychotropic substances and their precursors, having established a multi-stakeholder narcotics board in 2009.
ARAYA DESTA ( Eritrea) said he concurred that transnational organized crime affected every region and almost every country. Like many countries in its region, Eritrea had been hit by the trafficking of persons. The Government had placed protecting victims and combating human smuggling as a top priority in its agenda, and had a “zero tolerance policy against criminals embroiled in this heinous crime”. It had prosecuted several criminals, was actively pursuing investigations, and, with civil society, raising public awareness against trafficking.
These crimes were transnational and needed a collective regional and global response. To effectively combat human trafficking and smuggling, there needed to be strengthened legal frameworks and improved capacity for vulnerable States in their common endeavour to protect, investigate and prosecute violators. Eritrea was committed to continuing work at national, regional and international levels to develop and enforce effective measures consistent with international law.
MARGARET AWINO KAFEERO ( Uganda) said the rule of law in Uganda had clearly benefited from a sector-wide approach; prison conditions had improved, and advances had been made in human rights standards. Further, rule of law assistance had been effective, as the sector-wide approach fostered cooperation and coordination. Uganda was also committed to correctional centres that rehabilitated offenders, and as a consequence of Government efforts, abuses in prisons have decreased, while congestion had reduced from more than 500 per cent to approximately 200 per cent. Access to justice through the use of the courts in Uganda had also been enhanced, she said.
With regard to the fight against drugs, Uganda reiterated the call made at the consultative meeting of drug officers in Kampala last year, to make good use of existing regional political coalitions to facilitate harmonization of policy and legislation, which included utilization of a focal point in countries for the monitoring of illicit drug activities. Uganda still faced its fair share of challenges — including a small number of judges, prosecutors, policemen and prison officers — which left every justice institution overwhelmed. She called upon relevant United Nations agencies for assistance in its efforts.
ZAHEER LAHER ( South Africa), associating with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), voiced concern over the links among drug trafficking, money laundering, corruption, and terrorism, which challenged Africa’s attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. The United Nations conventions on transnational organized crime, corruption, drugs and terrorism attested to the nature of the challenges, which required collective action. In that respect, the provision of technical assistance to State parties was a key tool in strengthening the implementation of those instruments. The African Union Commission had implemented three action plans on drug control and crime prevention since 1998 and he called on State Parties, UNODC and development partners to support the implementation of the revised 2012-2018 plan.
Countries in southern Africa had increased their focus on combating drugs and crime, he continued, having held two expert groups meetings in Botswana and South Africa in 2011 to make the region safer. Southern Africa had seen an increase in substance abuse and related crime. South Africa was not immune from that problem, having become a hub for cocaine and heroin shipments destined for illicit markets in other parts of the world. It was also a destination country for heroine and cocaine, the latter of which had become a drug of choice. South Africa was equally committed to fighting economic fraud, identity theft and money laundering, as well as new crimes, such as rhino poaching. Building regional capacity in the area of criminal justice was essential to combating transnational organized crime.
SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia) said he agreed with the Secretary-General’s report A/67/157, which stated that drugs were a risk to health and well-being, a problem that involved producer, transit and destination countries. UNODC had monitored drug situation in his country. “We need the supervision of this organization”, he said, noting that its latest report had recognized Bolivia’s efforts to eradicate illegal cocoa crops. Bolivia had reduced those crops by 12 per cent between 2010 and 2011.
Noting that Bolivia was a transit country for cocoa to Brazil, Europe and other markets, he said that between 2006 and 2007, Bolivia had seized a large amount of cocoa, much more than in previous years, and had made efforts to fight drug trafficking. Yet, for political reasons, the United States continued to harm countries like Bolivia. Chewing cocoa leaves was an ancestral tradition dating back centuries. “It is part of our history”, as a medicinal product, he said. It was banned in the 1961 drug convention. Bolivia had asked to become a party to that convention, but with the exception that the cocoa leaf could be used for medicinal purposes. He reiterated Bolivia’s commitment to fighting drug trafficking and illicit crops. The United Nations must combat that scourge in a greater scope, especially vis-à-vis the banking sector and doing away with tax havens that allowed for criminal drug activities.
KEVIN CASSIDY, of the International Labour Office, said with near global consensus that trafficking in persons was a gross and unacceptable violation of fundamental human rights, “we have the momentum to end this crime against humanity.” The rapidly increasing body of rights-based international instruments and national legislation that sought to eradicate this insidious practice had created a sense of urgency in the international community, which was increasingly characterized by closer cooperation. There were at least 21 million victims of forced labour, trafficking and slavery in the world today. About 90 per cent of forced labour was exacted in the private economy, primarily in labour intensive industries such as manufacturing, agriculture and food processing, fishing, domestic work and construction. But, while global interest in combating forced labour had grown, the response still fell far short of addressing the full scale of the problem.
ILO was seeking to address the root causes of forced labour by empowering vulnerable people to say “no” to coercion at work, and by addressing demand factors that made exploitation profitable. It looked to governments, the business community and other key stakeholders to provide the necessary consistent and long-term support. ILO would also create a “global clearing house” for data on forced labour, slavery and trafficking to facilitate collaboration among researchers and generate reliable statistics that would serve evidence-based policy making at the country level. Since 2000, ILO had successfully implemented more than 60 field-based interventions against forced labour at the country and regional level. Projects had also addressed bonded labour in South Asia, debt bondage in Latin America, vestiges of slavery in Africa, and human trafficking in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
MICHELLE KLEIN SOLOMON, permanent observer of the International Organization for Migration, said in the wake of global economic crises, diminished employment opportunities could directly fuel human trafficking and abuse and exploitation of migrants. Some progress had been made to combat that crime against humanity, but there had been no decline in the numbers of victims assisted by IOM, or the number of countries it was assisting. “One key reason for the intractability of this crime is its cross-cutting nature, often providing a diverse combination of migration, labour, and criminal justice challenges that test the strength of our partnerships to the utmost at local, national, and international levels,” she said.
In the next decade, the fight against trafficking required a system correction; anti-trafficking tactics must be mainstreamed into the health and education sectors, for example, and private companies needed to be engaged and focused, she said. IOM had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UNODC in April to more effectively combat human trafficking. It would also continue to work closely with other relevant United Nations actors through the Inter-Agency Coordination group against Trafficking in Persons, as well as at regional and national levels. “For the past decade, the fight against trafficking in persons has been waged for the most part by governments, intergovernmental actors, and NGOs. Yet, private sector companies have a key role to play in addressing this challenge – especially in light of the continuous and steady rise in the number of identified cases of trafficking for the purpose of labour and exploitation,” she said.
* *** *