Wednesday, January 23, 2008

UN: Human Trafficking Data Needed

Chief of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime Antonio Maria Costa

From the Associated Press:

VIENNA, Austria — Better data is needed to determine the magnitude of human trafficking and some countries are not taking the problem as seriously as they should be, the U.N.'s top anti-crime official said Tuesday. "We only see the tip of the iceberg but we have not succeeded in pushing this iceberg out of the water," Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the Vienna-based United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, told The Associated Press in an interview.

Costa, who described human trafficking as possibly the most difficult issue his office deals with, made his comments before a conference on the matter to be held in Vienna next month. The three-day gathering, which starts Feb. 13, is being organized by the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, launched by Costa's drugs and crime office in March 2007 to increase knowledge and awareness of the issue, promote effective responses and foster joint action partnerships.

"We need to mobilize people by understanding better and we need better statistics so as to identify specifically what is going on," Costa said, while acknowledging that the matter was "murky" and often difficult to quantify. "We are dealing with human beings, we are not dealing with commodities and that makes it difficult to measure — but we will succeed," he said.

In preparing the meeting, known as the Vienna Forum to Fight Human Trafficking, Costa said organizers have run into countries that appeared not to fully grasp the severity of the problem. "We did run into some member states that, how can I say, maintain ... a sort of benign neglect who say, for instance, 'Well, this is not human trafficking or slavery — it's just prostitution,'" Costa said.

"I sense that greater educational efforts on our part are needed to make sure that the crime is fully understood and the severity fully appreciated," he added. Costa declined to divulge any names, saying he did not want to "shame" anyone. "Those are limited cases but in some instances they are important cases, countries well known to us," he said.

Costa also noted that some states — such as Moldova, Belarus and Nigeria — were becoming very "militant" in their efforts to stop trafficking. All three were ranked as recruiting countries in a report by the drugs and crime office released in April 2006. The report showed that most victims of human trafficking are women and children who are abducted or recruited in their homelands, transported through other countries and exploited in destination countries.

The report also found that the trafficking of people for sexual exploitation or forced labor affects virtually every region of the world and called on governments to do more to reduce demand, protect victims and bring perpetrators to justice.

Read the full article

1 comment:

  1. UN.GIFT (United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking ) website aims to be an extension of UN GIFT activities worldwide. We would like it to evolve into a vibrant online community where people exchange views, showcase their work, talk about their experiences to strengthen the fight against human trafficking. With your help we can make it a valuable resource to take this fight forward. Organized crime of human trafficking needs a fitting organized response.

    • It is time to join forces to prevent human trafficking.
    • Give this global problem a global solution.
    • Rally under the banner of the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking.
    • Get involved!
    • Together we can save people and put traffickers behind bars.

    UN.GIFT was formally launched in London on 26 March 2007. It is designed to have a long-term impact to create a turning point in the worldwide fight against human trafficking. 27million people are trafficked each year. UN.GIFT intends to take action against human trafficking in all its manifestations – commercial sexual exploitation, bonded labour, organ trade, camel jockeying, forced marriages, domestic labour, illegal adoption, and other exploitative work – through creating partnerships at a global level with all sectors of society.

    The ultimate goal of the Global Initiative is to contribute to ending human trafficking– estimated to have a total market value of about $32 billion worldwide. UNODC has a two-pronged strategy for achieving this goal – increasing public awareness of the problem and coordinating existing but disparate efforts by international and national groups, governments and non-governmental organizations and by concerned individuals to end the practice.

    Numerous regional GIFT events will culminate in Vienna with a Global Forum against Human Trafficking from 13th to 15th Feb 2008.

    The objective of The Vienna Forum is to raise awareness, facilitate cooperation and partnerships among the various stakeholders. It will bring together representatives from Member States, UN system organizations, other regional and international organizations, the business community, academia, non-governmental organizations and other elements of civil society. The Forum will allow for an open environment to enable all parties involved to take concrete steps to fight human trafficking, within their spheres of action.

    The Forum will be a catalyst for solution-seeking ideas and address three overriding themes on human trafficking:
    1.Vulnerability: why does human trafficking happen;
    2. Impact: human and social consequences of human trafficking;
    3. Action: innovative approaches to solving complex problems.

    The Vienna Forum will also consist of plenary sessions and a variety of panel discussions and workshops especially designed to address the multi-faceted dimensions of human trafficking.