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At the UN General Assembly meeting Monday, UN Officials urged those in attendance to continue to work towards “full implementation” of major anti-human trafficking treaties. The treaties are central in the fight against the US$32 billion global human trafficking industry.  Global estimates of those in forced labor, sexual prostitution, and military labor range from 2.4 million to 27 million. Regardless of the numbers, the industry will continue to grow without support and implementation from UN member countries.

Vuk Jeremic, General Assembly president, opened the two day UN conference aimed at improving coordination among nations in the fight against human trafficking.  When talking about stopping the crime of human trafficking and helping victims rebuild their lives, he said “no effort must be spared.”  We must increase our attention to the matter and collaborate to fight against human trafficking.  Increased sensitivity and awareness training for law enforcement, border control, embassy officials, and peacekeepers is one such area where coordination must be improved.

The two-day meeting will also serve to provide an update on the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.  The plan was adopted in 2010 and includes measures for integrating the fight against human trafficking into broader programs within the UN as well as increasing development and security globally.  Discussions throughout the meeting built upon the plan and addressed preventing human trafficking, prosecuting offenders, protecting victims, and forming partnerships to fight human trafficking. The Plan also set up the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons. Jeremic requested member countries to provide greater support for the fund.

With almost a third of victims worldwide identified as children, the need for greater collaboration is great. Awareness on the part of government officials, humanitarian organizations, and citizens is necessary to continue in the fight against human trafficking. The UN conference is a huge step in this direction.

– Amanda Kloeppel
 Source: National News Agency of Malaysia
Photo: UN

Ed Royce
 “Trafficking in persons is a grievous offense against human dignity that impacts every country on earth, and disproportionately victimizes girls and children.” – Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA)

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce opened a hearing on human trafficking on May 7th, 2013. The hearing will discuss local and private sector initiatives to combat human trafficking.  Modern-day slavery, human trafficking is a growing global crime.

One of the things society must wrestle with is how the vulnerable are treated and protected as well as what their responsibility is in coming to the aid of the exploited. Human trafficking exists in every nation worldwide and targets women and children in disproportionate amounts.  Numbers indicate over 20 million victims of forced labor and forced sex work worldwide. However, bigger than the numbers are the faces and stories of the victims, largely children, who have been stripped of their hope, innocence, and youth.

Chairman Royce’s Chief of Staff, Amy Porter, spent time in India and Cambodia serving victims of human trafficking. She recounts girls as young as 3 years old in awful, disgusting situations. Closer to home, it is estimated that 100,000 children in the US are victims of human trafficking.  The Foreign Affairs Committee has worked tirelessly to get human trafficking on the minds of Congress and will continue to work hard to make the issue an urgent and pressing one in the coming weeks and years.

The hearing will look at some of the promising private sector and community partnerships going on worldwide and the implications of those innovative partnerships in eradicating human trafficking. The tools that are being developed and the relationships established on the local, community level may just be the answer to fighting human trafficking worldwide.

Videos of the Question and Answer session as well as the opening statement can be found here.

– Amanda Kloeppel

Source: House Foreign Affairs Committee
Photo: Jewish Journal