Christophe Bahuet: Speech at the UN-ACT launch in Beijing
By Mr. Christophe Bahuet, UNDP Country Director
Mr. Wen Daojun, Deputy Director General of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ministry of Public Security;
Mr. Wang Wei, Director, South South cooperation, CICETE,
Representatives from the Ministries,
Representatives from social organizations, non government organisations, academic institutions and the media,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to warmly welcome you to the official launch of the new UN led regional anti-trafficking project called UN Action for Cooperation against Trafficking in Persons, or UN-ACT. I would also like to associate to my remarks the Regional Programme manager, Ms. Annette Lyth, who wanted to be here today but has not been able to travel to Beijing.
Trafficking in persons is a crime of global reach and scale. The Asia-Pacific region records by far the highest rates of human trafficking in the world and within the region, the Greater-Mekong Sub-region (GMS: Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam) features some of the most extensive and specific flows of migration and human trafficking. These flows are characterized by strong cross-border patterns due to factors such as cultural linkages, traditional migration trends, long and porous borders, as well as significant imbalances in socio-economic development levels. Trafficking in persons in this area takes place for a wide range of purposes including forced labour, sexual exploitation, forced marriage and illegal adoption, which all infringe on human rights and human dignity.
The United Nations has for several years been a partner of the six governments of the Greater Sub-Mekong region to address human trafficking. A recently completed UN regional inter-agency project—UNIAP helped develop government capacity to address trafficking issues and to foster counter-trafficking mechanisms.
One of the most prominent results from UNIAP was its support to the establishment of the sub-regional process, known as the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking (COMMIT). The COMMIT Process, which has been in existence for 10 years now, is a unique sub-regional mechanism through which the six governments in the Mekong region effectively fight trafficking.
To build on the progress made, an extensive consultation process was undertaken in 2013, which involved over 200 stakeholders in the six countries and at the regional level. The aim of these consultations was to design a new regional anti-trafficking project to continue the fight against trafficking in persons. A key message voided in these consultations was the need for increased collaboration between stakeholders and the importance of cross-border cooperation and cross-sectorial response.
The new project called UN-ACT, which was formulated as a result of these consultations with generous financial support from Norway and Sweden, and which we are launching today in China aims to support policy and operational responses to human trafficking within the GMS, in collaboration with the governments and civil society partners. UN-ACT will help respond to current and emerging problems and to the changing trends in human trafficking in the GMS. Liaising with governments and non-governmental organizations at both the central and the local level, will enable it to effectively support the translation of policy decisions into effective actions. By working on the ground and by capturing up to date information, the project will also help ensure that policies are informed by realities and latest developments. And the involvement of the United Nations will facilitate the development of cooperation and exchange of experience among all participating countries.
UN-ACT will work in the following four areas:
1) Strengthening of the COMMIT Process through institutional support, knowledge sharing and accountability. This will ensure that the governments deliver the services victims are entitled to, and effectively punish the perpetrators of the crime of trafficking in persons.
2) Increased engagement of the COMMIT process with other countries and regional actors, such as ASEAN, to effectively counter human trafficking. The aim is to bolster cooperation with other countries and promote cross-learning and stronger linkages.
3) Provide policy makers, academia, non-governmental actors and the public with increased access to evidence-based research and knowledge on human trafficking. This work aims to address the lack of reliable data on trafficking in persons, which remains a weakness and a significant obstacle to increase the effectiveness of anti-trafficking work.
4) Partnership with the civil society, media and private sector to contribute more effectively to anti-trafficking efforts in collaboration with governments.
The UN system in China is fully committed to the successful implementation of UN ACT working in close cooperation with our national partners. We highly appreciate the importance that the Government of China has given to the issue of trafficking in person and the excellent cooperation we have enjoyed under the UNIAP project. We look forward to the continuation of this cooperation under the new project.
I would like to thank all representatives for the contributions they are making to address trafficking and for their presence to this launch today. We are confident that working together under the new project, we will be successful in our fight against trafficking in persons.