Statement from IOM Director General, António Vitorino
World Day Against Trafficking in Persons
30 July 2020
This year is the twentieth anniversary of the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, and its historic Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
We are half-way through a very difficult year for everyone, and our contemporary challenges have had a severe impact on people’s vulnerability to trafficking and exploitation.
IOM was implementing counter-trafficking interventions in accordance with human rights principles long before the Palermo Protocol gave us the clearly defined parameters that we know today. And likewise, our interventions have evolved over time as new forms of trafficking have emerged.
We have learned, as have governments, that it is imperative to partner with the private sector, trade unions, supply chain auditors, and recruitment agencies to put in place practices to reduce the risks of trafficking and exploitation.
As we embark upon a new decade, the world is now confronted with perhaps our biggest challenge to counter-trafficking – that of a pandemic, that has in addition brought severe restrictions to mobility, impacted livelihoods, and limited access to vulnerable people. COVID-19 has brought a devastating impact upon the household security and health of billions of people all over the world, which inevitably heightens vulnerability and risk of exploitation, whether it is job-seekers taking hazardous journeys, families relying on child labour for survival, or the marriage of young daughters in a desperate attempt to relieve economic strain.
Now, as we have always done, the anti-trafficking community must evolve and adapt to this new crisis, finding innovative ways to identify trends, to screen for vulnerabilities, to support States while advocating for human rights and the prevention of abuse, and to seek safe and viable options for those who will remain on the move. Let's move into this direction together, as united we are stronger!