On behalf of the United Arab Emirates, I congratulate Italy on its presidency of the Council and applaud its convening of this meeting on human trafficking in conflict situations. I would like to thank the Secretary-General and all of the other briefers that we have heard from today.
This crime’s reach extends to all corners of the globe – no country is impervious to its impact. We hope that today’s debate will help all countries better confront the role of conflict and instability in exacerbating the problem of human trafficking.
In particular, trafficking of persons is a frontline concern in the Middle East – our region – where war and displacement have torn apart communities and destroyed social protections. In these fragile contexts, Da’esh and other extremist and terrorist groups have horrifically subjugated innocent people as forced combatants and laborers. These acts of terror are fundamentally tied to extremist ideologies.
In exploiting the vulnerable, women and girls are disproportionately affected. As a global champion of gender equality and women’s empowerment, the UAE believes that this is a cause for grave concern. Women are the cornerstones of their families and communities, so crimes committed against them have ramifications for all of society.
The UAE takes human trafficking very seriously – both at home and around the world. Since 2007, the UAE has developed legal frameworks, policies, and social infrastructure to help fight human trafficking. Through its comprehensive strategy, the UAE’s National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking tracks incidence and rates of prosecution to hold perpetrators accountable; works with agencies to aid survivors of human trafficking with counseling, shelter, and residency or resettlement; trains law enforcement entities on anti-trafficking; and spreads public awareness of the crime throughout the Emirates.
To truly eradicate this problem, we know that while we must stop trafficking within our own borders, we must also cooperate with countries where trafficking originates. The UAE is working with national governments to ensure legitimate migration channels by promoting the rule of law to protect citizens, and by offering economic opportunities to prevent the circumstances that open the door for traffickers to exploit individuals. To that end, the UAE has created MOUs with five countries – most recently India – to help address the conditions in countries of origin.
The UAE calls for two interventions to combat human trafficking at the international level, and specifically in dealing with the crisis in our region:
First, integration. Combatting human trafficking poses challenges that are as numerous as they are complex. As such, addressing human trafficking must be holistically integrated into any responses to conflict and crises around the world, and particularly in our region. Integrated responses can be achieved by advancing cooperation between the public and private sectors, which should be facilitated by the United Nations.
Second, human trafficking is inherently linked to the current state of global migration. As such, the agreement on and adoption of the forthcoming Global Compact on Safe, Regular, and Orderly Migration must include stipulations that address human trafficking. We call on Member States to engage in this process to ensure a positive outcome.
These actions are aimed at addressing the problem of human trafficking, but we must also address its root causes. And that is done through a strategy of prevention that includes sustainable and inclusive development for all.