Intervention by H.E. Ambassador Katalin Annamária Bogyay Permanent Representative of Hungary at the Security Council Open Debate on “Trafficking in Persons in Conflict Situations: Forced Labour, Slavery and Other Similar Practices”, 15 March 2017
Your Excellency, Mr. President,
Honorable members of the Security Council, dear Colleagues,
I wish to commend the UK for providing us the opportunity to reflect on this extremely important topic.
Let me also thank Secretary-General António Guterres, Mr. Kevin Hyland, Mr. Yuri Fedotov, as well as Ms. Ilwad Elman for their informative briefings.
Hungary, of course, aligns itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union.
Modern slavery is a crime of the 21st century: adaptive, cynical, sophisticated, extremely complex. It also means that this is a crime that can be fought only by applying modern, innovative, adaptable approaches that utilize the findings of new research and the latest technology.
We also have to recognize that given the diverse and complex nature of the problem, there is no single magical solution and no single organization that can tackle this problem alone. Our actions need to be tailored to the specific case at hand. Moreover, our response has to be gender- and age-sensitive, as well as exploitation type- specific.
In other words, the enslavement of Yazidi women and girls in Iraq, the recruitment of child soldiers in South Sudan, or the exploitation of migrants and refugees in Libya will all require the application of different tools and the involvement of different actors.
Human trafficking, forced labour, slavery and similar practices became a recurring feature and by-product of armed conflicts. We find that in conflict and post- conflict situations, the level of insecurity, as well as the breakdown in family and community structures and other safety nets, raise the exposure of women and men, girls and boys, to diverse forms of exploitation.
It is particularly disturbing that Daesh, Boko Haram, Al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups use sexual exploitation, forced marriage and similar practices as a tactic of terror and openly promote and engage in the enslavement and trade of women and girls, often targeting religious and ethnic minorities. In addition, transnational criminal networks take advantage of the instability found in so many parts of the world and generate enormous profits from preying on the most vulnerable and marginalized members of conflict-torn societies.
I would like to emphasize the need of the UN to play a leadership role in the fight against all forms of modern slavery.
We commend Secretary-General Guterres for being here today and sharing his views on this issue. His presence means a lot to us.
As we have seen in recent months, Secretary-General Guterres adopted a number measures and came up with proposals that aim at improving the coherence of UN action and coordination among UN entities in areas such as counterterrorism or conflict prevention.
Today we are discussing a topic that is at least as complex as those that I just mentioned. Numerous UN entities, not only UNODC, but also ILO, OHCHR, IOM, UNHCR, UN Women, UNICEF are mandated to work on specific aspects of this challenge. Unfortunately duplication of efforts is frequent and we can even find competition that, let us admit, helps no one.
The complexity of the problem requires strengthened, better coordinated and coherent UN response, and it is also the very minimum the millions of victims deserve. Moreover, this is exactly what the leaders of 193 Member States called for when adopting the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and what the Security Council requested in its resolution 2331 (2016).
Taking all these into account, we encourage the Secretary General to place this issue high on his agenda, align it with the prevention-focused reform efforts, and play a proactive role in fostering better coordination and deepening cooperation in particular within, but also beyond the UN, just as he is currently doing in other areas.
Appointing a special envoy tasked to facilitate coordination, strengthening the Inter- Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT), and/or convening a task force to guide how UN response should be further strengthened are some of the options.
I wish to announce that later this year Hungary will host the regional consultations of the ILO-launched Alliance 8.7 initiative the very purpose of which is to strengthen cooperation and coordination among UN entities and other key stakeholders.
Hungary is looking forward to the 2017 review process of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons and we are ready to participate actively in future discussions on how to strengthen UN response to this global threat.
We have to raise the awareness, make this crime more visible through media, art, working together with journalists and artists. It is high time to translate for everybody what it really means to be enslaved and how these chains of crimes are working.
While we encourage the broadest possible ratification of the Palermo Protocol and the 2014 ILO Protocol on Forced Labour, we wish to emphasize that effective implementation of these international instruments is also essential. In this context, we recognize the usefulness of the technical and legislative assistance offered by UNODC and ILO to member states.
Compliance with international humanitarian law is also important, since it reduces the occurrence of situations that increase the vulnerability of civilian populations to terrorist groups and organized criminal networks, and by doing so, it indirectly contributes to the prevention of trafficking in persons in and from conflict-affected areas.
Ensuring accountability is also a must. States should step up their efforts in finding the perpetrators and bringing them to justice. Given the transboundary nature of these crimes, international judicial and law enforcement cooperation is fundamental. States should also train their immigration authorities, police forces, prosecutors and judges, and effectively carry out criminal procedures, with special regard to the sensitivities and the particular nature of these crimes.
Some of the acts we are discussing today may even amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity or be constituting elements of genocide. While the primary responsibility to bring the perpetrators of such acts to justice lies with States, subject to specific circumstances, the International Criminal Court may also play a role.
Here I would also like to highlight the potential of the mechanism currently being established to assist in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the most serious crimes committed in Syria, including such that fall under the theme of today’s open debate. Hungary has offered voluntary contribution for the Mechanism and we encourage others to do the same.
We should also explore what role existing mechanisms tasked to investigate allegations of breaches and violations of international humanitarian law (e.g. the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission) could play in ensuring that those crimes that they become aware of, however, which do not violate international humanitarian law are to be investigated by the competent authorities.
I thank you for your attention.