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Statement by H.E. Sven Jürgenson at the Security Council Open Debate on "Trafficking in persons in conflict situations: forced labour, slavery and other similar practices", 15 March 2017

15.03.2017

Mr. President,

I would like to thank the United Kingdom for convening the open debate, for their leadership and commitment to this important issue. Estonia aligns itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union.

Mr. President,

In recent years, the problem of human trafficking in conflict situations has become more exacerbated, both in scope and nature. We are witnessing an increasing number of conflicts, and, unfortunately, human trafficking has become a regular feature and by-product of armed conflicts. Thus, trafficking in persons in conflict situations has reached an unprecedented scale.

Mr. President,

In order to address the problem of human trafficking in conflict situations, Estonia believes that the international community needs to focus simultaneously on prevention, protection and prosecution.

Firstly, preventing violent conflict from occurring in the first place is the best guarantee to avert human trafficking from happening. That is one of the many reasons why Estonia fully supports the Secretary General’s emphasis on shifting from reaction to prevention. We commend his efforts to improve the UN’s capacity to take early action to prevent violent conflict and link the reform of the UN’s Peace and Security architecture with the reform of the UN Development System. The UN needs to fulfill its core functions more effectively and in a more coherent manner.

Secondly, international community needs to scale up protection efforts to ensure that those impacted by conflict situations, especially women and girls, do not become vulnerable to traffickers. To achieve this, Estonia calls for a better coordination among stakeholders and institutions. Security Council could lead this process and foster greater normative, operational and strategic coherence across the UN system on this topic by engaging directly with relevant UN mandate holders, including the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict and on Children and Armed Conflict, UNODC, UNHCR and other relevant agencies.

Thirdly, there must be no room for impunity, and all perpetrators must be held accountable. While the problem of trafficking is international in nature, and therefore requires an international response, we must not forget that the primary responsibility for bringing those responsible to justice lies with the States. National policy and action programs, including efforts to train immigration authorities, police forces, prosecutors, and judges, are crucial to eradicating human trafficking.

While most countries have adopted legislation criminalizing human trafficking, attention still needs to be directed to enforcement. Thus, the states themselves and the international community must take action to prevent the culture of impunity from spreading. Furthermore, the victims must have access to adequate assistance, support and effective remedies.

Mr. President,

It is important for the international community to continue its efforts tackling and preventing the activities of armed groups, terrorist groups, and transnational organized crime groups, that are involved in human trafficking, forced labor and modern slavery. Estonia believes trafficking in persons in conflict situations must and can be eradicated. But the fight needs to be stepped up to reach this goal. We remain ready to actively participate in future discussions shaping the international community’s response to this global threat.

Thank you

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