Expert Group Meeting on Human Trafficking & Global Supply Chains

12 Nov 2012

Speech of the RC/RR UNDP, Shahid Najam: Expert Group Meeting on Human Trafficking & Global Supply Chains
12-13 November 2012

Respectable Ms. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking;
Distinguished Participants;
Ladies and gentelman;

It is my immense pleasure to welcome you all to the expert meeting in Ankara on human trafficking. The UN Country Team Turkey, which I represent, is indeed privileged to associate itself with this meeting in which galaxy of experts, scholars and business leaders are going to share thoughts and experience, in the coming two days, on the issues of vital significance to the contemporary world. I wish to express profound gratitude to Ms. Ezeilo for having given us this privilege and opportunity to host this meeting in the UN House.

Human trafficking is a malady which is afflicting the destiny of millions and millions of people on the globe; those who are disempowered and discriminated, estranged and alienated and marginalized and excluded. In the recent years, the trafficking in persons has rightly attracted increasing attention of the international community, for, it represents illegality and immorality; oppression and exploitation; and violation and abnegation of fundamental human rights in the worst form and manifestation. Indeed, it is a sad and sordid comment on the 21st century which claims to profess and strives for: peace and security; development with equity; inclusive growth and governance; and above all respect for human rights and dignity.

The human trafficking has become a serious concern for many countries in all parts of the world, regardless of whether they are countries of origin, transit or destination or, as is increasingly the case, a combination of all these.

Although slavery and the slave trade were abolished in the 19th century, human trafficking continues to flourish as one of the most lucrative businesses world-wide for organized crime after drugs and arms trade. While it differs from the 19th century slave trade, it pervades in multiple forms and ways, exhibiting great regional variations. Its incidence is difficult to identify in precise terms because of its clandestine nature.

Trafficked persons are often victims to abuse such as rape, torture, debt bondage and unlawful confinement besides being subjected to physical, sexual and psychological violence. The demand for cheap labour, sexual services and criminal activities coupled with lack of opportunity, resources and social standing are the major causative factors fomenting human trafficking.

With over half the world’s population earning less than $2 a day, many anti-trafficking practitioners suggest that there will always be a supply of people willing to take a chance on migration to emancipate themselves from the scourge of poverty and hunger and thus become susceptible to trafficking. They have begun to question whether trafficking can be addressed by a predominant focus on reducing the supply of potentially vulnerable labor, that traffickers can exploit or whether, more emphasis on the demand factors needs to be given to yield greater return on investment. Yet another dimension which seems to figure predominantly in the discussion is the role of the private sector and its integration in the quest for sustainable solution to this burgeoning challenge which the humanity is facing.

I am confident that this expert meeting will help foster meaningful discussion around these issues; facilitate sharing and exchange of information on good practices and lessons learned from previous experiences; enhance and deepen thematic expertise on issue relating to human trafficking and supply chains; and culminate in identifying innovative method to reduce demand for trafficked labor, examining in particular issues around labor standards and supply chains.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today we are witnessing many important changes in Turkish migration agenda including trafficking in human beings. A new law "Foreigners and International Protection" has been drafted by the Bureau on Migration and Asylum in conformity with EU standards and in accordance with the international instruments, to which Turkey is a party. The Law contains specific provisions related to the rights of vulnerable groups and passed through the relevant Parliamentary Sub-commissions on 20 June 2012; it is now with the Turkish National Grand Assembly for ratification. This Law, inter alia, envisages establishment of the General Directorate on Migration Management; and formulation of national strategy and program on combating human trafficking and protecting the trafficked persons. Additionally, a new framework law on Combating THB and Protection of Trafficked Persons is also being drafted by the Bureau. 

Distinguished Participants,

I am pretty confident that your sagacity and wisdom and experience and expertise will enrich and advance the debate on human trafficking and lead to a set of workable recommendations for businesses and governments especially in addressing this widely pervasive anathema in the context of global supply chain. There is definitely an urgent need to continue improving cooperation in the fight against trafficking in persons; all of us here – international organizations, private sector companies- large and small, civil society, and private citizens – have our role to play, for, if we wish to embark on sustainable human development and bequeath a better and more just world for our posterity, we must unite and pool our efforts, our resources and our energy to rid the world of this heinous crime.

Allow me to conclude by thanking you for your attention and expressing my very best wishes for a successful two days of deliberations.