Over the past decade, trafficking in human beings has reached epidemic proportions. No country is immune, the search for work abroad has been fuelled by economic disparity, high unemployment and the disruption of traditional livelihoods. Traffickers face few risks and can earn huge profits by taking advantage of large numbers of potential immigrants. Trafficking in human beings is not confined to the sex industry. Children are trafficked to work in sweatshops as bonded labor and men work illegally in the “three D-jobs” – dirty, difficult and dangerous.
A recent CIA report estimated that between 45,000 to 50,000 women and children are brought to the United States every year under false pretenses and are forced to work as prostitutes, abused laborers or servants. UNICEF estimates that more than 200,000 children are enslaved by cross-border smuggling in West and Central Africa. The UN has taken an important step forward in coordinating an international response to trafficking.
On 15 November 2000, the General Assembly adopted a package of instruments against various forms of transnational organized crime, including the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. These require the countries that become States Parties to adopt basic criminal offences, including trafficking in persons or the equivalent, participation in the activities of an organized criminal group, money laundering and other illicit conduct. They also establish a framework for international cooperation, including various forms of assistance in the conduct of investigations and prosecutions and provisions for the extradition of offenders. Within the first year, both the Convention and Protocol had obtained more than half of the 40 ratifications needed to bring them into force, and they are expected to take effect in the near future.
The US Federation for the Middle East under the Moderator Salwa Kader sponsored a panel discussion at the Commission on the Status of Women 50th Session at the United Nations to the discuss these vital issues.
Human trafficking in the 21 Century panel with H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson General Assembly President.
Some of the audience attended the human trafficking in the 21 century at the United Nation 2006