Statement of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the
Security Council Open Debate on
Maintenance of International Peace and Security:
Trafficking in persons in conflict situations
New York, 20 December 2016
The Holy See is grateful that the Presidency of the Kingdom of Spain has brought this very important subject of trafficking in persons in conflict situations to the deliberation of this Council and to the attention of the International Community.
For the Holy See, this issue of trafficking in persons is of pre-eminent importance. People of goodwill, whatever their religious beliefs, can never allow women, children and men to be treated merely as objects, to be deceived, violated, often sold and resold for profit, leaving them devastated in mind and body only to be finally eliminated or abandoned. Such treatment is shameful and barbaric. It must be condemned unequivocally. The full force of the law must be brought to bear upon those who commit such crimes.
The Holy See notes that the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of measures to counter trafficking in persons (5/2016/949) contains a wealth of statistics and highlights the many issues that are involved in this villainous practice. The report clearly shows the complexity of trafficking in persons as an international phenomenon and illustrates the multifaceted nature of the problem, whose resolution will require the collaboration of many United Nations agencies, the cooperation of regional, national and local governments and the admirable work on the ground of civil society organizations, in particular of faith-based and faith-inspired organizations and groups.
Pope Francis, who has made the fight against trafficking in persons and other forms of modern slavery a high priority, passionately affirmed: “Every person and all people are equal and their freedom and dignity must be recognized. Any discriminatory relationship that does not respect the fundamental conviction that the ‘other is like me myself’ constitutes a crime, and very often an abhorrent crime. That is why we declare in the name of all people and of everyone of our own Creed that modern slavery —in the form of human trafficking, forced labour, prostitution or the trafficking of organs — is a crime “against humanity”. Its victims are from every walk of life, but most are found among the poorest and the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters. In the name of those who are calling our communities to action and who, without exception, reject completely every systematic privation of individual liberty for reasons of personal or commercial exploitation, in their name we make this declaration.”
There are many causes and factors that aid and abet contemporary forms of slavery like trafficking in persons. Among these are poverty, underdevelopment and exclusion, especially when combined with a lack of access to education or scarce, even non-existent, employment opportunities.With widespread corruption and unrestrained greed robbing the human person of a dignified life, the Holy See wishes to add narcotics trafficking to the list of crimes accompanying human trafficking, along with money laundering, the arms trade and child prostitution.
At present, the biggest single factor that facilitates trafficking in persons is war and armed conflict. Trafficking in persons is flourishing alongside today’s refugee and migrant crisis, which has been primarily provoked by wars and conflicts. Since human choices provoke conflicts and wars, it is well within our power and responsibility to address this root cause that drives millions to become refugees, highly vulnerable to human traffickers.
If the fight against trafficking in persons is to be effective, the International Community must unite in the common commitment to bring an end to fighting, hatred and violence, and to pursue peace and reconciliation. The Holy See remains firmly convinced that the way to resolve open questions must be that of diplomacy and dialogue.
The Holy See encourages the Security Council to continue fighting against the scourge of trafficking in persons, primarily through preventing and ending armed conflicts. The challenge that trafficking in persons poses is immense, urging all to assume their respective responsibilities and collaborate with one another. The Holy See is committed to playing its part in meeting this challenge.
Thank you, Mr. President.
1. Pope Francis, Address to the Participants at the Ceremony for the signing of the Faith Leaders’ Universal Declaration against Slavery, Vatican City, December 2, 2014.