Combating human trafficking is a key priority for France - 23 December 2015
Security Council - Maintenance of international peace and security – Speech by François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations – December 23, 2015
At the outset, allow me to warmly thank our briefers, whose presentations and disturbing testimonies embody the Council’s profound interest in addressing the issue of human trafficking in situations of conflict. The poignant testimony of Ms. Nadia Murad Basee Taha, who herself was a victim of atrocities committed by Daesh, was particularly gripping and will remain fresh in our memories.
The actions committed by Daesh in the Middle East or by Boko Haram in Africa dramatically illustrate the ongoing links between international peace and security and human trafficking. Worldwide, trafficking in human beings is, along with the traffic in drugs and counterfeit goods, one of the most profitable forms of trafficking. Its so-called turnover is estimated at $32 billion dollars annually — if figures make any sense — and it is one of the most widespread kinds of trafficking. Forced labour, sexual servitude, kidnapping for purposes of forced prostitution, rape — the list of atrocities committed by terrorist groups, in particular in situations of armed conflict, is unfortunately very long. While the international community has invested heavily in the issue since the turn of the century, more efforts are crucial to defeat this scourge.
I therefore commend the initiative of the United States presidency of the Council and to thank its delegation for giving us the opportunity to exchange views on this issue.For these terrorist groups, whose main victims are usually women and children, trafficking in human beings is not simply a means of spreading terror among civilian populations ; it is also used as a source of financing. In Syria, women suffer the worst atrocities. Rape, forced marriage and prostitution are everyday occurrences in regions controlled by Daesh. In Iraq, Daesh has established a veritable market where women from minority groups, such as Yazidis and Christians, are sold to serve as sex slaves.
The international commission of inquiry on human rights in Iraq describes a system that transcends borders, where we find Yazidi women, and even girls, with price tags on their foreheads, for sale in the markets of Raqqa, in Syria. In Nigeria, Boko Haram tortures, rapes and holds prisoner hundreds of women and children.Those acts are not only intolerable from a moral point of view ; they may also constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity and even genocide in the case of certain communities.
These crimes must not go unpunished. The terrorist groups that commit such atrocities are pushing the boundaries of what it means to be human. Faced with this, we are called to act — and to act in the sense of protection. The need to protect civilians is obvious, but so is the need to protect the law and its principles.On numerous occasions, the Council has debated subjects closely linked with the phenomenon of human trafficking — on the occasion of the adoption of resolution 2195 (2014), for example, on links between terrorism and organized crime, or more recently of resolution 2242 (2015), on women and peace and security. But our words must now be translated into action.
Prevention, the protection of victims and the fight against impunity must be our priorities.Combating human trafficking is a key priority for France. The three pillars that I have described guide the national action plan that France adopted in 2014 in order to curb this scourge. At the international level, we have at our disposal pertinent international instruments, such as the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, known as the Palermo Convention, and its Protocols, including that specifically dedicated to the fight against trafficking in persons.
But we need to strengthen them and ensure their full implementation by the entire international community. It is to that end that France argues especially for the establishment of a review mechanism to verify and facilitate the implementation of these instruments.
We also contribute to the Global Programme against Trafficking in Persons of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, whose remarkable work I commend.Finally, as it did at the International Conference on the Victims of Ethnic and Religious Violence in the Middle East, held in Paris on 8 September, France will continue to mobilize the international community each time it has opportunity to do so. When we learn of crimes as horrific as the ones we have heard testimony about today, we have a collective responsibility to act to end them and to prosecute their perpetrators. The Council can be assured that France will be fully mobilized to that end.