Trafficking in persons: one of the most profitable means [fr]
Public debate on trafficking in persons in conflict situations - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 20 December 2016
On behalf of France, I would like to begin by expressing our deepest condolences and sincere sympathy to all those who have been struck by the tragic terrorist attacks over the past two days.
Allow me to warmly thank the Spanish presidency for organizing this especially important debate and to congratulate it for its tireless efforts that have led to the adoption of resolution 2331 (2016). It is an excellent illustration of the outstanding Spanish presidency and the exceptional work carried out by its Ambassador to the United Nations and his team. I would also like to express my gratitude to the Secretary-General for his presence here and for his commitment to the topic, as well as to Ms. Bangura and Mr. Fedotov for their always enlightening briefings. Finally, I would also like to particularly thank Ms. Ameena Saeed Hasan and Ms. Nadia Murad Basee Taha for their moving testimonies, the reminder that they have offered us and their fight, which is also our fight.
France aligns itself with the statement that will be made by the Anti-Trafficking Coordinator of the European Union.
Trafficking in persons is one of the most profitable and widespread means of trafficking around the world. The actions committed by Da’esh and Boko Haram dramatically illustrate the link between trafficking of persons, often related to sexual violence, and terrorism. For those terrorist groups, the first victims claimed are generally women and children. And trafficking in persons is not only a way of sowing terror among civilian populations, but it is also used as a source of financing or recruitment tool.
In Syria women suffer the worst types of atrocities — rape, forced marriage and prostitution are the daily lot for the people who live in the areas controlled by Da’esh. Da’esh has established an actual market in Iraq, where women and girls from minorities, such as Yazidis or Christians, are sold to be used as sexual slaves. The United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic confirmed in its June 2016 report to the Human Rights Council that crimes against humanity and crimes of genocide were committed by Da’esh against young Yazidi women. In West Africa, particularly in Nigeria, Boko Haram has tortured, raped and held as prisoners hundreds of women and children.
Those acts are not only unacceptable from a moral point of view, but they constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity and, in some cases, crimes of genocide. Terrorist groups that commit such atrocities take what it means to be human to new lows. Those responsible for such crimes will be held accountable before the court of law. To confront such crimes, we must act in the name of protection — protection of civilians, obviously, especially of women and children, but also protection of international humanitarian law and the very principles of our Organization.
For France, the fight against trafficking in persons, especially in women and children, and the fight against sexual violence committed against them in situations of conflict, is an absolute top priority. Such priority has led France to take action on the various fronts in this important fight. France is involved in numerous bilateral and regional cooperation efforts to help the most vulnerable States in confronting such a scourge. France also actively participates in capacity-building programmes of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), particularly in West Africa. And my country has been the largest contributor to the UNODC funds for human trafficking since its establishment in 2010.
France has spared no effort, and will spare no effort, to mobilize the international community in this fight. Following the conference that took place in Paris in September 2015 on the victims of religious and ethnic violence in the Middle East, during France’s presidency of the Council in June we organized a debate (see S/PV.7704) on trafficking in persons and sexual violence in conflict situations. We commend the fact that some of the recommendations formulated during that debate were reflected in resolution 2331 (2016), presented by Spain. Finally, UNODC will present tomorrow, with the support of France, its biennial global report on trafficking in persons.
The Security Council shoulders a collective responsibility in the fight against trafficking in persons in conflict situations. We have at our disposal the relevant international legal framework — the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols, including the protocol dedicated to combating human trafficking. It is within that framework that we need to strengthen our engagement. Human trafficking and sexual violence committed in situations of conflict are too often considered as separate from the threats to international peace and security that are reviewed by the Security Council. In fact, those practices are part and parcel of the strategies of such terrorist groups as Da’esh and Boko Haram, and indeed are a threat to international peace and security. As the threat of terrorism evolves, we must evolve with it.
I would therefore like to conclude by echoing one of the main messages of the resolution: the need to better take into account the link between human trafficking, sexual violence and terrorism, which for the very first time has been clearly recognized as a threat to international peace and security — a potentially crucial breakthrough. Following presidential statement S/PRST/2015/25, adopted in December 2015, the Council has taken a major step forward today. On that basis, a more in depth analysis of the threat and identification of the individuals and entities that, through their actions, are involved in human trafficking, is necessary. That work should be carried out jointly by the entities in charge of the fight against terrorism in the United Nations: the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
In the face of such appalling crimes and challenges to human conscience, it is our collective responsibility to act in order to put an end to those crimes and prosecute those responsible for such actions without let-up. The resolution that we have adopted today gives us additional legal instruments to move ahead in that direction. Let us unite our efforts to make the best possible use of those instruments.