Summary of the Chairperson

Colleagues, delegates, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.

It has not been an easy three days, ladies and gentlemen, delegates. We have all met here collectively, and it evolved into a fabulous human resource pool. We have had some fabulous suggestions, amazing inputs, some excellent good practices and some valuable ways forward.

Now to summarize all of that and put it into black and white letters was indeed very, very difficult, and we have had a lot of help from a lot of people who helped draft this and did not get much sleep. And all of us who have had sleepless nights wondering what to do with human trafficking, we are going to be going back this afternoon assured that we have found a way forward.

Now these are the closing moments of the Vienna Forum, and do not panic if you have gotten a text circulated earlier, there are going to be some small slight differences, which have been made with the consent of all the people here together. It is going to be pretty much what we had drafted earlier, but with some changes. A final text copy will be circulated later for those who want to take it home just to remember.

I want to highlight the discussion held over the last three days, particularly focusing on some of the innovative ideas, in the hope that the momentum that we have generated collectively here this afternoon and throughout the course of this Forum will continue to build until we eradicate this hideous crime of human trafficking. I think that is something that we all agree on.

The adoption of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and other related United Nations conventions and instruments precipitated intense activity around the world to stop trafficking in persons. The Protocol, along with individual country programmes and laws, are the basis from which future actions to fight human trafficking must be derived, with the human rights of trafficked persons, particularly women and children, at the centre of all of our collective efforts.

Much work has been undertaken at all levels to address this crime. The United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT, as we call it conveniently), is a response to collectively address human trafficking in a multifaceted manner by bringing together partners from within and outside the United Nations. The justification for the Initiative is simple, is it not? Human trafficking is a crime of such magnitude that no one, acting alone, can halt it. Collectively we can fight it.

The objectives of the Vienna Forum were to raise awareness, facilitate cooperation and forge partnerships among the various stakeholders. UN.GIFT designed the Forum within this framework to take stock of what has been done already and to share these experiences with the broadest range of stakeholders, thus generating dynamic discussions and highlighting innovative approaches to combating human trafficking.

I can say with a fair share of confidence that the Vienna Forum successfully accomplished this task and met its objectives. One of UN.GIFT's aims is to expand its alliances, and the Forum proved that not only can this be done, but it can be done creatively with new and existing partners, such as the private sector, the media, trade unions and, most important of all, women leaders.

The Forum was organized around three themes, which reflect the key issues that need to be addressed in a comprehensive anti-trafficking strategy: vulnerability, impact and action. I want to focus on the final theme as the way to point us forward at the closing of this Forum. 

The Governments

Many States that have signed or ratified the Trafficking Protocol have adopted new laws or amended existing laws and legislation to translate the Protocol into action. The Parliamentary Forum recognized the importance of these actions and the need for more countries to take similar measures.

The critical role of national Governments was recognized in combating human trafficking. I do believe it is a vital threshold from which we can take things forward.

Private sector and international employers' organizations

Private sector and international employers' organizations and their representatives expressed the need for ensuring anti-trafficking provisions within their supply-chain purchasing practices, as we just heard the Gap [Dan Henkle, Vice-President for Social Responsibility, Gap, Inc.] talking eloquently-I am calling you the Gap because that is your brand equity.

They called for proactive measures to address the ways in which the globalized economy generates supply and demand for trafficking. The representatives also asked for practical tools to keep supply chains in line with national and international standards and for increased efforts to raise awareness of employers and employees, while remaining sensitive to regional value systems and practices. We really must not go flatfooted, trampling over regional sensitivities.

Overall, the private sector recognized the need for UN.GIFT to act as a facilitator in the fight against human trafficking and offered its services in an advisory capacity.

Civil society

Civil society organizations emphasized their role in providing support to victims and engaging in capacity-building and advocacy efforts on the ground, where the problems lie. New alliances between all civil society and other partners were recognized as very powerful tools. Panellists also highlighted the importance of institutionalizing the working relationship between state authorities and civil society organizations.

Media

Media-which I do believe is the key to opening up mindsets-media reporting on human trafficking is extensive, begging the question: is all publicity good publicity? Do we really need it that way?

Discussion centred on how to ensure that media has a positive effect in the fight against trafficking. The exchange of experiences in this session illustrated the value of this type of dialogue by exposing the need for broader awareness of existing victim-centred guidelines for journalists.

Youth

Now the world is getting younger in many ways. We see younger people coming into the mainstream, younger achievers across the world, and youth should be seen as part of the solution andnot just as those who are vulnerable or in need of rescue alone. It was suggested that youth can provide innovative tools to raise awareness about trafficking among their peers, teachers, parents and in their communities. Innovative tools presented included youth-led film productions, role-plays and music montages to raise awareness on trafficking in persons. And I do believe youth can really do that very, very effectively.

Comprehensive approach to the issue

During the Forum, we also heard about the need to address all forms of human trafficking. We must understand that. While attention is often given to trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, much more needs to be done to address other forms of exploitation. In many cases, global standards exist but broad compliance remains a problem.

We heard repeatedly in the Forum about addressing the root causes of human trafficking and the need for abolishing the demand that fuels human trafficking. We do not need rocket technology for us to understand that demand raises the bar for supply, and we need to address that and contain it.

The need for a victim-centred approach was stressed, especially with a view to reconciling interests and promoting understanding between victim service providers and law enforcement.

Technical assistance and international cooperation are essential for national capacity-building for the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Trafficking Protocol.

Monitoring and research

We heard repeatedly in this Forum about the need to deepen the global understanding of human trafficking based on solid research. Gathering accurate information is necessary to understand where the major information gaps are to provide officials a sound basis for national responses to trafficking in persons. Participants also highlighted the importance of monitoring the progress in the implementation of the Trafficking Protocol by their respective Governments.

What works

In all panels, we have seen what works. We have learned about useful tools as well as good and innovative practices. They are not uniformly applicable, of course, to all countries nor can they be uniformly scaled up, but there are many practical examples that reduce vulnerability, address impacts and lay the groundwork for action. And, more importantly, will show us what it is to be politically correct and help set direction in that way.

Cooperation must be sustained, otherwise it would be failing, recognizing shared goals and differentiated responsibilities, extending the guiding framework of the three Ps (prevention, protection and prosecution) to a final fourth P-which is "partnerships". So we have the four Ps that we need to look at and put into action.

Finally, of course, we have heard a great deal over the last week about the importance of moving beyond talk into taking action. Sessions in this Forum have been full, often spilling over into the hallways, and you have proven that a good dialogue can happen and that it is so vitally necessary.

UN.GIFT is moving forward. The alliances are growing. Now we have an obligation to take action and gather speed on the path to eradicating human trafficking.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am not going to say farewell or goodbye, because I believe it is only an interlude for all of us before we meet the next time with achievements, with better understanding, holding hands in both partnerships and friendships where we will gather again to share this knowledge. So, I will wish you all most strength to your elbow in this fight against this biggest obscenity on supposedly a civilized society, that of human trafficking.

I know, I know that some of us are going back with a burning passion and anger that we have even allowed this to happen. We are going to go back with innovative ways to see how we can influence our respective nations and Governments. We are going to go back because we have to move forward, and we will move forward into a society that is strong enough to protect the children, right enough to bestow the gift of childhood onto these children and that we are brave enough to speak the inconvenient truths. 

I wish you all strength and my prayer that our paths will cross again. Good luck, god speed and see you again.

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