2014-07-30 | News
The UN Secretary-General's Message and UNODC Executive Director's Statement on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

Human trafficking is a callous global industry that denies victims their rights and dignity and generates billions of dollars for organized criminal networks.  Most of those trafficked are vulnerable women and children deceived into a life of suffering.  They are exploited for sex and forced to work in conditions akin to slavery.

This first World Day against Trafficking in Persons is a call to action to end this crime and give hope to the victims, who often live unrecognized among us.  To stop the traffickers, we must sever funding pipelines and seize assets.  I urge all countries to ratify and fully implement the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol on Trafficking in Persons.

Enforcement, cross-border cooperation and information-sharing can all be effective, but ending human trafficking also means tackling the root causes.  Extreme poverty, entrenched inequality and a lack of education and opportunity create the vulnerabilities that traffickers exploit.  Ultimately, the best protection is to accelerate development for all.  

 Victims of trafficking who are fortunate enough to be freed need assistance to regain their rights and reintegrate into society.  The UN Trust Fund for the Victims of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, works on their behalf but needs additional funding.  I appeal to everyone to support the UN campaign, “Have a Heart for Victims of Human Trafficking”.

 Let us open our eyes to this crime and our hearts to the victims.  It is time to say no to human trafficking.



Statement by UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov for United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Persons

Not a single day goes by without a fresh report of women, men and children being sold into modern-day slavery; forced to work in sweatshops, fields and brothels, hidden in plain sight in the richest countries in the world, and in the poorest. Human trafficking exploits the dream of millions for a better life for themselves and their children. Traffickers steal this hope to turn people into commodities in a perfidious trade that, despite our efforts, continues to operate with impunity.

This 30 July, we are marking the first ever United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Persons. The day aims to raise awareness of the plight of human trafficking victims, and help promote and protect their rights. It is a chance to express our solidarity with the vulnerable, and pledge to give back the precious commodity stolen from them: hope. Because the truth is that we are still far from winning this fight.

The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, under the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime came into force a decade ago. In this time we have achieved a lot. In 2003, less than half of countries in the world had legislation criminalizing human trafficking. Now more than 90% of countries do. Nevertheless, legislation does not always comply with the Protocol, and fails to cover all forms of trafficking and their victims. In effect, there are billions of people who are not adequately protected and remain vulnerable. Even when legislation is enacted, implementation falls short. Since 2007, the number of convictions reported globally has remained extremely low.

As UNODC’s forthcoming Global Report on Trafficking in Persons shows, some 15 per cent of countries did not record a single conviction between 2010 and 2012, while 25 per cent only recorded between one and 10 convictions. This is of great concern because convictions not only ensure that the offenders have to answer for their crimes. They send an important signal to criminals – for whom human trafficking is a low-risk, high-profit activity – that this violation will not be tolerated. At the same time, we have found that more and more detected victims are children, particularly girls under the age of 18.

We can all do our part to fight human trafficking. Awareness is key, because even though human trafficking is a transnational crime happening everywhere, it is a crime that is committed locally, in our neighbourhoods and local communities. The majority of convicted traffickers – the recruiters, transporters and exploiters – are from the same country as the victims, or are nationals of the country to which the victims are taken. Even when international borders are crossed, the origin and destination countries are often within the same region. I encourage everyone to do and give what they can.

The United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons supports grassroots organizations directly assisting victims of human trafficking. The fund is financed solely through voluntary contributions from governments, the business community and people of goodwill. Every donation counts.  Let us mark this first United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Persons by doing more. We need more awareness, more education, more training and more determination to see – and stop – what is happening right in front of our eyes.


Join the #igivehope campaign today and show your solidarity with victims of human trafficking.

Have a heart for victims of human trafficking and contribute to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund:

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