The President of the UN General Assembly of the United Nations of the General Assembly, Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, Independent UK Anti–Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland and Academy–Award Winning Actress Mira Sorvino will be the keynote speakers at a major conference being sponsored by the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations on April 7.
The Conference, entitled “Ending Human Trafficking by 2030: The Role of Global Partnerships in Eradicating Modern Slavery,” will be held from 3–6 pm in Conference Room 4 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Attendance is open to the public but all attendees must register by April 5 at holyseemission.org/rsvpApril7.
The Conference is being co–sponsored by the Santa Marta Group, a collaboration of senior law enforcement chiefs from over 30 countries with senior representative of the Roman Catholic Church and civil society organizations, founded in 2014 by Pope Francis in order to strengthen and coordinate the global response to human trafficking and all forms of modern slavery. The Group is named after the residence in the Vatican where Pope Francis resides.
Archbishop Bernardito C. Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, said that the purpose of the event is to “catalyze the coordination necessary to implement Targets 5.2, 8.7 and 16.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which commit the United Nations and its Member States to ‘eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation,’ ‘take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking,’ and ‘end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children’ by 2030.”
Archbishop Auza said that Pope Francis has sent a special letter to be read at the beginning of the Conference.
The fight against forced labor, modern slavery and human trafficking is clearly a top priority for Pope Francis. He wrote about it in his encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home and in his exhortation The Joy of the Gospel. He dedicated the entirety 2015 Message for the World Day of Peace to the Subject, making it a key priority of international diplomacy for the Holy See. He has spoken about it to newly accredited diplomats, religious leaders, police chiefs, social scientists, scholars, and mayors from across the globe, and made it one of the pillars of his address to the General Assembly on Sept. 25, 2015, when he stressed, “Our world demands of all government leaders … concrete steps and immediate measures for … putting an end as quickly as possible to the phenomenon of social and economic exclusion, with its baneful consequences: [namely] human trafficking, … the sexual exploitation of boys and girls, [and] slave labor. … We need to ensure that our institutions are truly effective in the struggle against all these scourges.”
Archbishop Auza said that, after the keynote panel, there will be four other panels that will describe the scope of the problem, focus what is already being done to address the problem in a coordinated way, learn what is succeeding in various countries, and summarize and focus the discussion toward concrete steps moving forward.
The second panel will focus describe the scope of the triple scourge of human trafficking, modern slavery and forced labor and will feature: Ambassador Lourdes Ortiz Yparraguire, Permanent Representative of the Phillipines to the UN; Sr. Imelda Poole, IVBM, President of Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation (RENATE); survivor Donna Hubbard of the Airline Ambassadors Human Trafficking Awareness Program; and Dr. James Cockayne of UN University, the author of a recent study on why we need a global partnership to end modern slavery.
The third panel will discuss what is being done to address the problem of modern slavery, human trafficking and forced labor in a coordinated way. Attendees will hear from Simone Monasebian, Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, New York Office (UNODC); Beate Andrees, Chief of the Fundamental Principles and Rights Branch of the International Labor Organization (ILO); Ashraf El–Nour, Permanent Observer for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to the United Nations; Kate Kennedy, Managing Director for North America of the Freedom Fund; and Monique Villa, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The fourth panel will feature the input of various Member States. It will begin with Minister Karen Bradley, Minister for Security in the UK; Ambassador Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya to the UN; Ambassador Mary Elizabeth Flores, Permanent Representative of Honduras to the UN; Ambassador Juan José Gomez–Camacho, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the UN; and Ambassador Sarah Mendelson, US Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council. Several Permanent Representatives have also requested to speak from the floor at the end of the panel, as have the leaders of various industries and civil society representatives, time permitting.
The final panel will be a summary panel featuring Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Science and the Pontifical Academy of Social Science, Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop Auza and Commissioner Hyland, who will synthesize for participants what has been presented and suggest next steps.
Archbishop Auza mentioned that Pope Francis, in his Message for the World Day of Prayer for Peace in 2015, highlight that now is the time for urgent, concerted and coordinated efforts.
“We are facing a global phenomenon that exceeds the competence of any one community or country,” the Pope declarated in the Message. “In order to eliminate it, we need a mobilization comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself.”
The Archbishop said that the Conference will highlight crucial aspects of that necessary worldwide mobilization and gets us several concrete steps closer to the day in which human trafficking, forced labor and modern slavery are found in history books rather than in backyards and supply chains.
He extended an invitation to all those who would like to come to find out more or to become part of the solution to register for the event via holyseemission.org/rsvpApril7.
For those unable to attend in person, the event will be lived streamed on webtv.un.org.