I would like to thank the co-facilitators Qatar and Belgium for their efforts in preparing this important event. The call of the political declaration on the implementation of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons will provide new stimulus to our efforts to fight human trafficking for all kinds of purposes, including forced labor, slavery and similar practices. I would like to make three major points:
I would like to underline Germany’s strong commitment to combatting human trafficking. Our resolutions in the Human Rights Council submitted together with the Philippines are based on our firm belief that victims of trafficking need to be protected and assisted - with full respect for their human rights. Traffickers treat their victims as mere commodities to create as much profit as possible or sometimes to satisfy a sadistic craving for power. Surely, we cannot let such a gross abuse of human dignity continue in our times. We - as states - must ensure that we effectively implement existing international standards to protect the human rights of the victims. We must also ensure that they have access to remedy to address alleged abuses and violations – without fear of blacklisting, detention or deportation. Germany is co-financing various projects to combat trafficking of human beings - with IOM in Mauritania and the Central African Republic and with Interpol in the Sahel region. We have also invited Nadia Murad Basee Taha- a Yazidi human rights activist and the first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking of the UNODC- and 1,000 traumatized refugees from Northern Iraq to Germany.
Human trafficking is often a transnational crime that can be fought only through international cooperation in the fields of prevention, prosecution and victims protection. The necessity to cooperate becomes more pressing, as we see the number of refugees and migrants rise worldwide and acknowledge that they are particularly vulnerable and may easily fall prey to traffickers. The basis for our cooperation is the UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons. We should all ratify and implement these legal instruments to ensure strong foundations for the rule of law.
Preventing human trafficking has many facets. If we take labor exploitation as an example, millions of people are part of global supply chains, and some of them work under exploitative and often harmful and dangerous conditions. Companies with international supplier chains have a responsibility to ensure good working conditions. The German National Action Plan of 2016 on Business and Human Rights expects companies to exercise human rights due diligence. This action plan as well as Germany’s 2014 Partnership for Sustainable Textiles Initiative are just two examples of our endeavors to improve trade and supply chain standards and to fight labor exploitation worldwide.
Human trafficking is despicable because of the suffering it inflicts on the most vulnerable. Let us increase our efforts to protect the victims and fight human trafficking in all its forms.