Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the Security Council Open Debate on Trafficking of Persons in Conflict Situations

Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the Security Council Open Debate on Trafficking of Persons in Conflict Situations

As prepared. Check against delivery.

Mr. President,

Mr. Secretary-General,

We commend the Italian delegation for convening this debate and keeping the issue of trafficking in persons in conflict situations on the Council´s agenda.

Trafficking in persons is a curse and disgrace of our times.

It is a gross violation of human rights and an extremely complex form of organized crime.

In recent years, we observe a significant evolution of its forms, especially in conflict and post-conflict situations.

Numerous ongoing conflicts have led to a rise in exploitation of civilians. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, the Lord’s Resistance Army and other terrorist and armed groups engage in human trafficking, forcing victims into sexual slavery, sexual exploitation, and compulsory labor.

Therefore, trafficking is a transnational threat that requires a transnational response, including from the Council.

In this light, it is encouraging that the Council addressed this issue in two recent resolutions — 2231 last year and today in the just adopted resolution 2388.

Ukraine also fully supports the Political Declaration on the implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Person, adopted by the General Assembly in September.

We must build on this momentum.

Persons who have been trafficked should be treated as victims of crime and not be penalized for their compelled involvement in the unlawful activities of the perpetrators. Along with the provision of psychological, social and medical support to victims, we see the fight against impunity as one of the key priority areas.

For traffickers, human beings are just a commodity, which can be sold for profit. Their channels, used for human trafficking, can be equally used for arms smuggling or transporting terrorists, if a greater profit can be obtained. Terrorist organizations often engage in this activity to finance themselves. The international community should therefore consolidate its efforts to cut these channels dealing with them as with a clear threat to international security.

Mr. President,

Ukraine is not immune to the problem of trafficking in persons. Yet, the Ukrainian Government is taking resolute steps to address this issue, having placed the fight against this horrendous phenomenon on the top of its agenda.

Over the past decade, Ukraine has made a significant progress towards the establishment of a viable nation-wide counter-trafficking response framework and set up a National Referral Mechanism to identify, assist and protect victims of trafficking. A Law of Ukraine on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings was adopted.

Our approach therefore places the victim and its human rights at the centre of action. We work towards eradication of trafficking in human beings, taking into account gender aspects and the best interest of the child.

Our priorities here are as follows:

— identifying, protecting and assisting victims of trafficking;

— stepping up the prevention of trafficking in human beings;

— increasing prosecution of traffickers;

— enhancing coordination and cooperation among key actors and institutions;

— increasing knowledge of and effective response to emerging concerns related to all forms of trafficking in human beings.

Ukraine acceded to main international legal instruments on fighting human trafficking and, as already mentioned, has a solid national legal framework to deal with this disgraceful phenomenon.

Let me note, however, that currently all of the aforementioned documents currently cannot be properly implemented in the non-government-controlled areas of my country.

According to available international data, Russian aggression has displaced two million people, and this population is especially vulnerable to exploitation. In the areas controlled by Russia and its proxies in the Donbas region, the situation has become particularly challenging. Displaced persons are often victims of trafficking, and some Ukrainians are subjected to forced labor in the occupied territory, often via torture.

But these cases remain largely unaddressed due to the lack of both safe access and proper attention of the monitoring missions, especially by HRMMU, as well as UNICEF and ICRC.

In this context, I would like to single out another issue of great importance for Ukraine — the accountability and prosecution of the perpetrators of trafficking in persons. The high level of impunity for these crimes in the non-government-controlled areas is unacceptable.

Mr. President,

Trafficking of persons is a blatant violation of human rights, an offense against the dignity and integrity of a human being. The success of our common fight against this scourge requires the effort of all concerned.

The long-term solution can only arise from consistent political commitment and the joint action of the international community to eradicate this evil, to promote justice and accountability, and to protect victims.