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Security Council – Open Debate on “Maintenance of International Peace and Security”

Statement delivered by Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the Security Council Open Debate on the “Maintenance of International Peace and Security:Trafficking in persons in conflict situations: forced labour, slavery and other similar practices” —

Mr. President,

thank you for today’s debate. Mr. President, As a non-Council member, Italy stressed the need for it to be engaged on human trafficking and on the serious violations of human rights related to it, also by promoting two years ago the European joint rescue operation in the Mediterranean. As a Council member, we support the continued involvement on it and are treating the issue as a priority.

Italy aligns it itself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union. In my national capacity, I will add the following operational remarks.

First, it is essential to follow up on resolution 2331 promoted by Spain. Its adoption last December represents a fundamental step forward, in particular by highlighting the links between transnational organized crime, terrorism and trafficking networks. Transnational organized crime and terrorist groups make use of human trafficking as a weapon to control territories and as a major funding source.
We therefore strongly support the Secretary General in following up on Resolution 2331 by systematizing the action of subsidiary organs on counter terrorism and sanctions, specialized Agencies and the Special Rapporteurs on Sexual Violence in Conflict and on Children in Armed Conflicts. Italy also looks forward to his report on Resolution 2331 to be presented by the end of the year, and we reiterate our support to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and to its Protocol.

Second, we believe that human trafficking, particularly in conflicts, requires a comprehensive approach at national and international level. At the international level, a concerted response is urgently required, grounded on the implementation of international rules and encompassing the aspects of prevention, law enforcement and accountability. In this respect, Italy looks forward to the High-Level Debate on the Palermo Convention to be held in New York in June.
At the same time, national jurisdictions bear the primary responsibility to criminalize these offenses and ensure accountability of the criminals. We stress the importance that all States ratify, fully transpose and implement these instruments at national level as they provide the main, internationally agreed, legal framework to prevent and combat human trafficking. In this regard, we praise the UNODC-EU initiative called “Global Action to prevent and address trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants” to assist the development of national comprehensive strategies to contrast trafficking.

Third, available figures urge us to take a more victim-centered, gender-specific and child-sensitive action.
Women account for more than half of all victims of trafficking at global level. Children are especially exposed to exploitation as they are increasingly compelled to leave their homes alone. Only in 2016, close to 25.800 unaccompanied or separated minors reached Italy by the sea, more than doubling the figures recorded in 2015.
Empowering women and enhancing their role in peace building is crucial. We are thus launching the creation of a Network of Women Mediators in the Mediterranean that we think will help fostering stability, security and respect of human rights in the Mediterranean, thus creating the preconditions to end human trafficking and any form of slavery and abuse related to it. As a first step, we are happy to organize with the UK Presidency an Arria meeting on March 27.

Fourth, legal and safe ways to ensure movement of people fleeing from conflicts are an important instrument to hinder human trafficking. In this regard, the Italian Government is carrying out a project called “humanitarian corridors” which allows safe and legal entry to Italy to people fleeing the conflict in Syria. It is an act of solidarity and a model that other States such as France are following. It is also a means to combat trafficking and the exploitation of the trafficked. In the same spirit, we also welcome the UNHCR’s call to end statelessness, including by the enhancement and digitalization of civil registry in Countries of origin because the lack of documents is one of the main factors that can induce modern slavery.

Mr. President,
Large movements of people can facilitate human trafficking and modern enslavement. Being a migrant is itself a vulnerability that can favor the exploitation of people on the move. Let me, in conclusion, reiterate the pillars of Italy’s approach: sharing responsibilities and raising awareness at regional and global level; saving lives at sea; addressing the socio-economic and political root causes of conflicts; disrupting the business model of traffickers and smugglers; upholding the rights of migrants and refugees and international humanitarian law.

Thank you.