Vatican City

02 December 2014

Secretary-General's message to meeting of Significant Faith Leaders against Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking

Modern day slavery and trafficking are serious violations of human dignity and rights.  These crimes often affect people who are already vulnerable because of discrimination, conflict or economic and social disempowerment.  Violations of human rights – including violence against women, gender stereotypes, discrimination, exclusion and failure to respect labour standards regarding decent work for a living wage – generate conditions in which trafficking can thrive.

No society is immune.  Just last week, the UN 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons identified at least 152 countries of origin and 124 countries of destination.  One in three trafficking victims is just a child.  Disturbingly, this represents a five per cent rise compared to the findings of the 2010 report.  And two out of every three trafficked children are girls.  Overall, females account for 70 per cent of trafficking victims.

We must join forces to stop this crime, and provide protection and redress to its survivors.  Respect for human rights is vital.  States must implement – not just ratify –
all human rights conventions, including those focused on labour rights.  I call on all States that have not done so to ratify and implement the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocol on human trafficking.  We need clear-sighted national strategies, legislation and institutional frameworks grounded in human rights.

I call for a renewed commitment to cooperate in the international fight against human trafficking, and I urge increased financing for the Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, the Trust Fund for the Victims of Human Trafficking and its Blue Heart campaign.  These funds give victims a place where they can be heard – knowing that their experience can guide our work to prevent further trafficking.  The funds also assist victims to cast off past experiences, seek redress for what they have suffered, and find new hope and opportunity. 

Let us come together to begin a powerful dialogue against these crimes across faiths, across communities and across the world based on our commitment to help
victims and survivors of slavery and human trafficking to reclaim their dignity, their rights and their freedom.