UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman noted that the ratification follows years of efforts by the US government to combat trafficking around the world, notably through its contributions to anti-trafficking programmes abroad.
The United States becomes the ninety-fifth country to ratify the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which supplements the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, and entered into force in 2003. The Protocol calls for specific measures to prevent human trafficking, prosecute traffickers and protect victims.
“Ratification of this Protocol is important to the global fight against human trafficking, especially of children,” Veneman said. “Millions of children who are trafficked every year are sold like commodities and are victims of assaults on their dignity and safety.”
Children who are trafficked are caught up in a lucrative industry with revenue estimated to be in the billions. Children and their families are often lured by promises of a better education, a better “job” or a more prosperous life far from their homes. Children are smuggled across international borders and within their own countries. They are most often forced to work in hazardous conditions, sold into domestic labour, marriage or prostitution, forcibly recruited as child soldiers, or offered up illicitly for adoptions.
Child trafficking violates the human rights guaranteed to children under international law. Children who have been trafficked face a range of dangers including violence and sexual abuse. Their social and educational development is often stunted. They are even arrested and detained as illegal aliens – often with little or no access to their parents or other support services.
UNICEF’s role in fighting trafficking
UNICEF’s efforts to protect children who are victims of trafficking include tackling the root causes of trafficking such as poverty, lack of education and life skills, discrimination and violence. UNICEF works to safeguard young victims of trafficking by identifying durable solutions for their protection based on their best interests.
These and other efforts are part of UNICEF’s commitment to build a protective environment for children, one which safeguards children from violence, exploitation and abuse before it happens.