STATEMENT BY H.E. Mahmoud Saikal
Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
Security Council Debate on the Trafficking of Persons in Conflict
(check against delivery)
20 December 2016
I would like to thank the Spanish Presidency for convening today’s debate on a topic of crucial importance, which demands the urgent attention of the international community. We thank Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other presenters for their comprehensive briefings. We are also moved by the statements of civilian activists Ms. Ameena Saeed Hasan and Goodwill Ambassador Ms. Nadia Morad Basee Taha.
Human trafficking constitutes a grave violation of international law, including international humanitarian law. It violates the fundamental values and principles we hold dear, like justice, equality, and human rights for all.
Over the past several years, the world has seen human trafficking continue unabated in different parts of the world, especially in countries stricken by conflict and facing violent extremism. This has many causes: to generate illegal profits in the criminal economy; to enlist people in illegal armed groups; to impose forced labor and slavery upon the innocent; and to have them carry out terrorist attacks in different parts of the world.
Human trafficking is particularly prevalent in countries stricken by conflict and strife, especially those who continue to suffer at the hands of terrorists and extremists. We have witnessed a continuing trend where many terrorist and extremist groups, such as the Taliban, ISIL or Daesh and Al-Qaeda, among others, increasingly resort to human trafficking to advance their evil agenda. In Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, extremist groups have abducted men, women, and children as a means to finance and conduct their criminal activities. In many cases, women and girls in particular, have been put for sale to mobilize financial resources and fund military operations. Such despicable activities represent the most evil of human actions.
The inextricable link between human trafficking and terrorism remains a serious source of concern, demanding urgent attention of the international community. We believe that addressing some of the underlying factors driving violent extremism should not be separate from ending the problem of human trafficking. In various conflict situations, especially in our region, a multitude of terrorist and extremist groups, including the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network still enjoy sanctuary, safe havens, alongside material and financial support that have reinforced their operational capability to continue their reign of terror against innocent people.
One of the best ways to address human trafficking is to prevent conflict from arising in the first place and resolving those wherever they occur. In doing so, we will avoid the enabling environment that fuels the problem of human trafficking.
As the principal organ of the UN responsible for the maintenance of peace and security, this Council should take necessary measures to identify and address the lingering problem of continued support for extremists as a means to advance political objectives. More focus should be given to ensure that States comply with their counter-terrorism commitments and obligations, on the basis of the relevant Security Council resolutions.
As a front-line State in the fight against global terrorism and extremism, we assure this Council, and the international community at large, that our struggle against these twin menaces will continue unabated, and with firm resolve. As we speak, our national security forces are engaging a multitude of international extremist groups that pose a serious threat to the civilized world.
The UN Global Action Plan to Prevent Trafficking of Persons and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children remains the overall international framework for decisive action to combat human trafficking in all its aspects. Afghanistan is a party to the said convention and we have put in place several legislations to criminalize various forms of human trafficking. Additionally, we are grateful to USAID for the Combating Human Trafficking in Afghanistan Project, co-funded by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), that works with our Government to effectively prevent trafficking, prosecute traffickers, protect victims, and improve regional coordination to combat cross-border trafficking.
The problem of human trafficking is wide-ranging with various components. The unprecedented flow of migrants and refugees, mainly from countries facing conflict, has left millions of people vulnerable to human trafficking throughout the world. In this context, we are pleased that the joint declaration adopted at the conclusion of the Summit Meeting on Migration here in New York in September offered due focus on preventing human trafficking.
Today’s meeting of the Security Council signifies that the trafficking of persons constitutes a crime against humanity and that any individual or groups involved in this heinous practice must be brought to justice. We hope this meeting will also serve as a reminder for all that additional progress is required to implement their commitments and obligations not only as matter of legal responsibility, but also as a moral imperative.
Finally, we concur with previous speakers that the problem of human trafficking in conflict situations should not be seen in isolation from the global fight against terrorism. Hence, it is imperative that States spare no effort, whatsoever, to implement the relevant counter-terrorism resolutions of the Security Council and General Assembly. In that context, relevant States must prevent the cross-border movement of terrorists, to cut off the flow of financial resources and other enablers that have thus far sustained extremist activity.
We hope the outcome of today’s meeting will revitalize the global fight against a menace that constitutes a crime against humanity and a challenging confronting us all.