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Reaching Across Borders to Stop Human Trafficking

On June 23, 2017, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGO) assembled at the United Nations for a multi-stakeholder hearing on the review of the global plan of action to combat trafficking in persons. In order to understand the significance of this amalgamation of words, it is important to understand two basic UN documents: the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (UN TIP Protocol) and the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons (Global Plan of Action).

The UN TIP Protocol – adopted 12 December 2000 and effective from 25 December 2003 – not only establishes an agreed definition for “trafficking in human persons” but also presents a framework for UN Member States to fulfill their obligations to introduce and strengthen national anti-trafficking legislation. The UN TIP Protocol is a major step forward in the fight against human trafficking since it is the first time UN Member States agreed that trafficking in persons was a serious international issue that needed urgent and coordinated attention.

The Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons – adopted in July 2010 and reviewed in 2013 – builds on the UN TIP Protocol, presenting an action plan for UN Member States to work together to “prevent, protect, and prosecute” when combating human trafficking. It also established the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons to support victims through financial, legal, and humanitarian aid. The Global Plan of Action progresses commitment beyond a framework to implementation. Every few years, as determined by the UN General Assembly, UN Member States review the Global Plan of Action to assess what has been accomplished and what remains undone.

Having conducted one review in 2013, the UN is now preparing a second to be completed in September 2017. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA), as a leading member of the NGO Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons (CSTIP), is on the front lines influencing the review process. The GOA and CSTIP advocate for the strengthening of the following points, calling for their specific mention in the declaration of the review:

Adopt an action oriented outcome document committing to the full implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specifically adhering to the requirements of Targets 5.2, 8.7 and 16.2.

Adhere to the recommendations of the United Nations Global Plan of Action, specifically the universal ratification of the UN TIP Protocol.

Actualize by December 2018 a robust review mechanism for the UN TIP Protocol, supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

Allocate significant resources at the national and international levels towards prevention strategies and exit services to reverse what “constitutes a serious threat to human dignity, human rights, and development.

Address demand. Without demand there is no trafficking of persons. Addressing this root cause is essential. Demand for high profits, cheap goods and labor, and commercialized sex is the driving force behind human trafficking.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Justin of Canterbury proclaim “all forms of human enslavement as the most heinous of sins, inasmuch as it violates the free will and the integrity of every human being created in the image of God." They “urge our faithful and communities – the members of the Orthodox Church and the Church of England – as well as all people of good will to become educated, raise awareness, and take action with regard to these tragedies of modern slavery, and to commit themselves to working and praying actively towards the eradication of this scourge against humanity.” We are, therefore, called to transcend complacency. In other words, we are to go beyond simply understanding human trafficking as “bad” or a “shame” and take action to minister to others and change ourselves – even when unprofitable and inconvenient. Therefore, the following is a short list of exhortations for us all. Please:

Pray for the approximately 21 million currently enslaved victims of human trafficking as well as those working to combat human trafficking at all levels.

Learn more about human trafficking and its root causes and share that information as widely as possible.

Discern our own participation and make appropriate lifestyle changes (this includes profiting from investments in companies with forced labor in their supply chains, supporting the commercial sex industry including pornography, focusing on profit and/or cheap goods over people, etc.).

In conclusion, governments and NGOs will continue to create policies and develop programs to end human trafficking and assist victims. These measures have and will continue to help. However, the $32 billion “industry” will only be fully eradicated when all of us surrender complacency to action. We must transform selfishness to selflessness and progress from sympathy to love.

 

#humantrafficking #EndIt #StopTheDemand #EndTrafficking #CSR #ForcedLabor #SexualExploitation

 

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