A very well-timed initiative

As is known, in the UNO headquarters in New York the International conference “Traffic in women and girls: let us solve the problem together” took place. It was organized by the Permanent Missions of Belarus and Philippines to the United Nations Organization, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the largest International non-government organization “Vital Voices”
It was the first time the UN headquarters hosted such a large-scale conference on human trafficking attended by all principal partners engaged in curbing this evil. More than 400 representatives from 90 states, over 20 international intergovernmental organizations, more than 100 civil society organizations and structures participated in the forum. Among them were heads of state governance bodies responsible for improving women’s status and social development, law-enforcement agencies of UN member states, leaders of UN system largest international agencies. Deputy Head of the Administration of the President of Belarus, Natalia Petkevich, and Minister of Interior, Vladimir Naumov, represented Belarus at the conference.

Among the main speakers at the forum were General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Dalius Čekuolis, UNO Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro. They welcomed the initiative by the Governments of Belarus and the Philippines and their partners to convene the international conference. There was shared the common opinion that the forum could become a powerful stimulus for undertaking worldwide activities aimed at curbing human trafficking and become an inspiration symbol for the following forces build-up.

Within the frames of the topical forum Natalia Petkevich in her statement underlined that Belarus was the first country in the post-Soviet area to launch a large-scale fight against human trafficking, take a range of preventive measures to protect the most vulnerable strata — women and girls — from being dragged into crime business on human trafficking. Belarus has created an efficient national coordination mechanism on the national level under the Ministry of Interior for revealing and blocking human trafficking channels, punishing instigators of these crimes, and rehabilitating slave trade victims. Belarus intends to create such a coordination mechanism at the international level under auspieces of the UN.

Vladimir Naumov informed the conference participants of the acting national system of investigation and prevention of crimes in human trafficking sphere, brought examples of effective cooperation of Belarus’ Ministry of Interior with law-enforcement agencies of other states which has resulted in saving lives of many Belarusian girls. The importance of coordination of efforts at the international at counteracting human trafficking was also emphasized.

The conference participants were informed about on the steps the Belarusian Government has undertaken to create a favorable social environment for the life and realization of human potential of Belarusian women in order to prevent their involvement into criminal plans of slave traders.

The participants of the conference touched upon two other important aspects of international activities aimed to counteract human trafficking: coordination of efforts and exchange of experience and information between law-enforcement bodies, and adoption and implementation of measures at rooting out deep social factors contributing to slavery (poverty, illiteracy, social inequality of women).

On the whole the conference drew attention of officials and public of a great number of states to the acuteness of the growing challenge of human trafficking and the necessity to unite the efforts of the whole international community in curbing the modern slavery. Many participants underlined that the forum held at the UNO would make a solid contribution to preparation of a Global Conference on Human Trafficking scheduled for November 2007 in Vienna.

Viktor Radivinovskiy
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