NEW YORK, 20th December, 2016 (WAM) — Highlighting the plight of victims of human trafficking, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underlined on Tuesday the need to ensure justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators, as well as to address underlying factors by focusing on human rights and stability.

“If conflict gives oxygen to traffickers, human rights and stability suffocate them,” Mr. Ban told the Security Council today at its ministerial-level meeting on the theme trafficking in persons in conflict situations. It also featured briefings from Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), And Zainab Hawa Bangura, UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

“We need strategic leadership in ending war – and also in preventing conflicts and sustaining peace,” added the Secretary-General, noting the UN’s commitment to supporting its Member States in early action and in preventive diplomacy.

He further drew attention to the importance of implementing the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure that the promise of “a life of dignity for all people” is delivered, and called on all countries to ratify all international human rights, refugee, labour rights and crime prevention conventions, and to put efforts into their effective implementation.

“The majority of trafficking victims are women and girls. Our response must include special attention to their rights,” he noted.

He also underlined the need to decrease funding for terrorists to make everyone, and in particular those who risk being trafficked, safer.

“Da’esh, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab and others are using trafficking and sexual violence as a weapon of terror – and an important source of revenue.

He further highlighted the need to respect and implement international law as well as strengthen national legal protections to ensure justice and accountability. He also stressed the importance of supressing trafficking syndicates by targeting money-laundering and criminal proceeds.

“The problem of trafficking is international in nature – and only an international response can succeed,” said Mr. Ban, adding: “Let us work together to help today’s victims of trafficking while creating a more stable and just world for all.”

As an outcome of the meeting the Council adopted a consensus resolution, recognising the various complexities and challenges of trafficking, in which it called on all UN Member States to take “decisive and immediate action” to prevent, criminalise, investigate, prosecute and ensure accountability of those who engage in trafficking in persons, including in the context of armed conflict.

WAM/tfaham