Update: 19.02.2008

First UN Conference on trafficking in human beings

From 13 to 15 February around 1200 experts met in Vienna for the first UN conference on trafficking in human beings. The economic, political and legal experts as well as humanitarian organisations met to find strategies to stem the growing problem of modern slavery. The Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs also participated. "t’s time for the world to open its eyes to this form of modern slavery," declared Mr. Costa, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.  "Moral outrage [alone] is not going to stop the traffickers; we need high impact law enforcement measures to make human trafficking a riskier business." Practical measures on how to stop human trafficking, such as blocking Internet payments for human trafficking transactions,  help-lines to report suspected child prostitution or sex slavery, codes of conduct to curb sex tourism and efforts to stop the forced removal and trade of human organs were being discussed by the participants.

Growing industry of organised crime 

"The trafficking in human beings is something completely inhuman, a grave crime, and it is also a growing industry of organised crime," said Scheurer, deputy head of the political affairs division in charge of human security. "It was very important to stand up and join forces against modern slavery." He also said that Switzerland had brought its experience of fighting human trafficking to the conference. The contacts made allowed for strenghtening the coordination between the police, state prosecutors and departments of migration and statistics. Scheurer seemed satisfied with the outcome of the conference.  Strategies for the future had been agreed upon, ideas exchanged, but no treaties signed. 

2.5 million people exploited  

The UN estimates that about 2.5 million people are currently being exploited, the large majority women and children. The UN further estimates the annual profit made from this exploitation at about 32 billion dollars, with half of this sum being made in industrialised nations. 

Further information

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