I have the honor of making this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and my own country Norway.
Trafficking in persons is one of the greatest human rights challenge of our time. These crimes are committed by organized criminal networks and armed groups at an increasingly large scale, sometimes supported by state actors, often with impunity.
Billions of dollars are generated each year – money that fuels conflict and hampers development.
Human trafficking takes on various forms of exploitation. We know that women and children are particularly vulnerable. Armed groups and criminal networks abuse women and children for sexual slavery, forced labor or as child soldiers.
For terrorist groups like the “Islamic State”, “Boko Haram” and “Al-Qaeda” trafficking and slavery are tools to humiliate and frighten enemies and to make money for their operations. We have all seen the horrific reports of abuse from the areas where they operate.
The Secretary General’s report on conflict-related sexual violence documents that smugglers are requiring sex as payment of passage. The report confirms that there is an evolving criminal infrastructure designed to exploit refugees and migrants through human trafficking, and sexual slavery.
It will require a strong and concerted international effort to oppose these powerful criminal networks.
International organizations and instruments such as the “UN Convention against transnational organized crime” must be better utilized to ensure effective international cooperation across borders and regions. Civil society also has a key role to play.
As human trafficking and armed conflicts are converging and becoming global security challenges, we need to develop combined tools from the security and development communities.
We need to improve cooperation through data sharing and monitoring between countries and across UN entities. We need better gender aggregated data and documentation in order to develop effective responses and services for victims of sexual exploitation.
The Secretary General’s reports and this open debate are important steps forward.
The 2030 Agenda also gives us an important platform to tackle trafficking in a more holistic manner. SDG 16 on peaceful societies specifically calls for the end of abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children.
The Nordic countries are strongly committed to tackling all forms of trafficking and organized crime. We are already deeply engaged in anti-trafficking programs, in partnership with developing countries and regional organizations. We believe that strengthening multilateral cooperation and partnerships are the only way to put an end to this deadly business.
Thank you, Mr. President.