Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative of Estonia on behalf of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia at the Security Council Open Debate on Trafficking in Persons in Conflict Situations
I have the honour to address the Security Council on behalf of Latvia and Lithuania, and my own country Estonia. We would like to thank Italy for convening this open debate, and commend you for your leadership and commitment on this important issue. We align ourselves with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the European Union.
Today the world is facing persistent challenges in the fight against human trafficking, in particular in conflict situations. The international community should confront this phenomenon in a most comprehensive manner. We are gravely concerned about the alarming increase of connections between the armed groups, including terrorist groups, and trafficking in persons.
Resolution adopted by the UN Security Council today, which we co-sponsored, is an important milestone in this regard. Building on the resolution 2331 of 2016, it condemns all acts of trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflicts, which is used by terrorist groups both to terrorize and to finance terrorism. We also note with concern, the criminal misuse of information and communication technologies, particularly the Internet, to facilitate trafficking of persons. We emphasize the importance of countering this phenomenon, while fully respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Trafficking is considered as one of the most difficult problems also in the context of migration. The fact that women and children are at greater risk of being trafficked and being subjected to forced labour was recognized in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants.
We welcome the adoption by the General Assembly of the Political Declaration on the implementation of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons at the high-level meeting in September. The declaration showed our political will to end human trafficking and now we need to start its implementation. The nexus between situations of conflict and human trafficking, facilitated by the lack of rule of law, means that human trafficking can exacerbate conflict and foster continuous insecurity. The exploitation of vulnerable people, especially women and children, who find themselves in a situation of conflict, by traffickers is appalling. It is an imperative to investigate, prosecute and convict the perpetrators of human trafficking crimes and need to put an end to impunity.
The focus on prevention is pivotal and is central to the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. Together with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development it advances sustainable and inclusive development, in order to address the root causes and vulnerabilities.
We also need to find ways to combat actively the demand of trafficked people for exploitation in the destination, as well as transit countries. As long as there is a will to pay criminals and demand for various purposes, such as sexual exploitation, forced labour and slavery, we cannot put an end to human trafficking.
Finally, we fully support the central role of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in the global fight against trafficking in persons, particularly in providing technical assistance to Member States, to implement the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
In this context, we reiterate the call of the European Union for more cooperation at the UN level and emphasise the role of the Inter Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT) in ensuring that efforts to fight against human trafficking across the UN system are coherent.
New York, 21 November 2017