Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen in the Security Council Open Debate on Maintenance of international peace and security: Trafficking of persons in conflict situations

21.11.2017 - Press release

Thank you, Mr. President, for raising this important issue.

Thank you, Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. Fedotov, and Ms. Giammarinaro for your briefings.

Aligning myself to the statement by the European Union, please allow me a few additional remarks.

Mr. Secretary-General, I would like to commend you for the observations and recommendations in your report on trafficking in persons in armed conflict (document S/2017/939).

o As you rightly described, collecting physical evidence in an area of armed conflict is a great challenge. In many cases, law enforcement agencies and the courts have to rely exclusively on testimonies of the victims. That is why we support your approach to identify additional evidence that can be gathered outside of conflict zones.

o From all we know, trafficking in persons is highly lucrative and the risk of being caught and brought to justice is way too small. Making these heinous crimes unprofitable will be key for reducing the number of crimes and saving a great number of potential victims. We therefore fully share your emphasis on tracking financial flows and transactions derived from trafficking. Fortunately enough, the Financial Action Task Force already provides us with detailed recommendations, which set out a comprehensive and consistent framework of measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. I encourage everyone to study and profit from this expert advice.

Tracking down the culprit and following the money are of course sensible lines to take. If the rule of law is not upheld and trafficking in persons is allowed to thrive in situations of conflict, this may contribute to destabilising societies and states.

To address trafficking in persons at national level, Germany has recently taken a number of initiatives, of which I would like to give some examples.

o As a country of destination for trafficked persons, we have taken numerous measures that focus on the victims, from social services to direct psychological support. Much of what we do in this regard we owe to the advice of GRETA, the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings monitoring the implementation of the corresponding Council of Europe Convention, which we encourage all States to ratify.

o Other measures focus on law enforcement. They target the perpetrators and those who knowingly benefit from trafficking in persons. The crime of trafficking is not only committed by the person who takes advantage of the victim’s vulnerable situation to make the victim submit to all kinds of exploitation. It is also committed by all those who knowingly and willingly take advantage of a person trafficked for labour or sexual exploitation. To give an example, how to address the latter, I would like to mention a new provision introduced to our criminal code in October of last year to curb sexual exploitation by criminalising clients who knowingly use sexual services from a trafficked person.

o To complement these efforts civil society is involved in many ways. Taking the example of labour exploitation the Federal Government included a provision in our National Action Plan of 2016 on Business and Human Rights voicing the expectation that companies with international supply chains take their share of responsibility to ensure decent labour conditions abroad.

Today’s discussion reminds us of the path that still lies ahead of us. Today’s discussion should also give us hope to follow that path. Because today, by adopting a new resolution, the Security Council has demonstrated determination and resolve. I am looking forward to continuing our discussion in the weeks and months to come.

Thank you.

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