Ending human trafficking

Reem Leila , Monday 13 Dec 2010

The “End Human Trafficking Now” conference in Luxor brought together more than 500 government, UN, NGO and business representatives around a common platform of fighting modern day slavery

End Human Trafficking


The Luxor International Forum, under the title “End Human Trafficking Now,” ended today. The Forum brought together more than 500 representatives from governments, United Nations entities, non-governmental and international organisations, the business community and civil society. It was conducted in coordination between the Suzanne Mubarak Women's International Peace Movement (SMWIPM) and the UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT). 
The event was comprised of four interactive sessions held to discuss the key challenges to the implementation of the Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons signed in Geneva 10 years ago. Forum participants explored key ways to prevent trafficking, such as improving human security and empowering vulnerable segments of society, in addition to discussing the economic dimension of trafficking, including financial measures to combat the crime.

During the conference a feature-length documentary film about global human trafficking was screened for forum attendees. The film portrayed the horror of this modern-day phenomenon that affects millions of women, men and children in every part of the world.

Mrs Mubarak pointed out that millions of people around the world, primarily women and children, are bought, sold, resold, transported or held against their will to be sexually abused and exploited. “There is a clear evidence that an even larger number are coerced into working in servitude and slavery-like conditions,” Egypt's First Lady said.

In many countries, children and young people account for a substantial portion of trafficked victims. Certain occupations such as domestic help, babysitting or modelling represent a particularly high risk for young people.

The sex market, in its search for more customers, is resorting to younger persons to exploit. Mrs Mubarak believes that many countries suffer the dangers and calamities of human trafficking. “At least 127 countries are suffering from the business of human trafficking as 27 million people all over the world are victims of this business,” she stated. Sexual exploitation forms 79 per cent of trafficking, whereas forced labour is 18 per cent of human trafficking. The remaining percentage is divided among street children, child labour, and illegal migration.

Yury Fedotov, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) pointed out that the UN.GIFT in cooperation with SMWIPM has developed an e-learning course which is a modular training programme for business leaders, managers and employees of business companies. “The course aims to help them understand what human trafficking is, identify where it might be a risk to their business and point to actions they can take to address this risk,” said Fedotov.

Youth and children must be sensitised to the dangers and risks they may encounter so that they are able to assume an active role in fending for themselves. They must also, according to Princess Mathilda of Belgium, be encouraged to use creative ways to inform and protect their peers.

Forum participants agreed on the following points: understanding human trafficking as a modern form of slavery, with the attendant heavy toll it poses to human dignity and security; engaging moral figures, business leaders, artists and academics to assume the role of champions of prevention; and building on the dynamism and power of youth to jointly develop tangible solutions to combat human trafficking. A special effort will be made to link with other campaigns, such as human rights protection, confronting violence against women and children, addressing HIV/AIDS, and the campaign on missing children.  

At the end of the forum, Mrs Mubarak attended a ceremony at the Luxor Temple to present the “Business Leader’s Award” to a group of businessmen, among which were Egyptian tycoon Samih Sawiris of Orascom Telecommunications for his pivotal role in combating human trafficking. Ali Agan, CEO of Azercell Telecom from Azerbaijan, and Gilles Pelisson, chairman and CEO of Accor in France, were also recognised. The award is intended to encourage businesses to fight human trafficking.

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