Apart from the sheer destructive misery and heartache caused by human trafficking, one of the first and perhaps most striking aspects to be seen by any investigation into trafficking is that it touches so many people in so many towns and cities in so many societies. This is a global problem.
Global problems can never be tackled by any individual country. They require an effective international mechanism of interaction and co-operation to track the criminal organisations driving and supplying trafficking and, as an extension, the most effective mechanism of justice to deal with the criminals where ever they may be in the world - to stop them from operating.
I've not met anyone who disagrees with this. It's the logical thing to do.
In fact, backing this up, even many countries agree with this approach. There have been numerous international agreements that speak fine words about the need for cross border co-operation, that are infused with the well meaning great spirit and intent to work together to halt the insidious spread of trafficking. Indeed these agreements and the people who constructed them should be commended. Look at the recent UN Global Plan of Action. This is a much needed step in the right direction to increase awareness and gain commitment.
However ... the key words here are "awareness" and "commitment". Actions speak louder than words.
Trafficking is a crime that shames us all and perhaps I am being too harsh when I ask ... are we are too used to "brushing it beneath the carpet" and hiding it from view in the mistaken belief, or hope, it is someone else's problem? Perhaps we haven't been shamed enough because in spite of the well meaning agreements ... exactly where is the co-ordinated and consistent programme of international action? True, at times national police and justice systems do foray into this territory - usually with remarkable effect. But these are individual events. What is required is a move away from well meaning words and the reliance on individual events to the creation of a functional international framework capable of tackling the international crime that shames us all.
In this day and age of economic hardship, the framework need not be a costly monolith with expensive offices and the creator of even more well meaning agreements. No. The framework for co-operation need only be an "umbrella" mechanism - a small core of people - with the remit to establish practical and working cross border communications and willingness to begin the process of a functioning task force. On the ground resources can still be committed by the individual police and justice systems on a temporary basis, who retain jurisdiction and responsibility. This create a jigsaw puzzle of effectiveness based on strategic oversight and ad hoc co-operation to further increase awareness and commitment. My understanding is that national police forces would prefer such a plan rather than have an intrusive international body challenging jurisdiction.
The point is this ... actions speak louder than words. There have been enough words. The time has now come for national authorities to "nail your colours to the mast" and become part of the solution we all want to see. We are all in this together.
James Stuart is a senior level advisory management consultant. He has over 20 years experience of strategy development based organisational transformation. This has been for a range of globally branded multinationals as well as a range of public sector organisations, most recently leading edge healthcare.
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