Statement by Sweden at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Trafficking in Persons in Conflict Situations


National Statement delivered by Ambassador Irina Schoulgin-Nyoni on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Maintenance of international peace and security: Trafficking in persons in conflict situations, 21 November 2017, New York.

Mr President,

Thank you for convening this meeting. Let me also thank the Secretary-General, Executive Director Fedotov and Special Rapporteur Giammarinaro for their useful briefings. I also would like to welcome the statement of Mr. Chergui.

I would like to align myself with the statement to be made later on behalf of the European Union and the statement by Norway on behalf of the Nordic Countries.

Trafficking in persons is a trade in human misery. It is the lowest form of criminality where illicit conglomerates prey on those who lack protection or whose desperate hopes for a better life leave them open and vulnerable to abduction, exploitation and abuse.

Just yesterday we heard the bone chilling reports from Libya of outright slave trade taking place there. I echo the Secretary-General's and the SR's remarks on these appalling acts as some of the most outrageous abuses of human rights and call upon the competent authorities to investigate these activities without delay. Slavery has no place in our world and we must work ceaselessly to end such practices.

Mr President,

As we discussed on Friday, during our meeting on security challenges in the Mediterranean region, there is complex set of interlinkages between conflict and instability, human rights violations and abuses, serious crimes, terrorism, displacement and trafficking in persons. Conflicts and humanitarian crises amplify the risk of trafficking in persons and there is a link between trafficking and large movements of migrants and refugees. This leaves displaced persons, migrants and women and children particularly at risk. This phenomenon is replicated in conflicts all over the world, including, as we have discussed in this Council, in Iraq, Syria and the Sahel.

Since trafficking in persons essentially entails violations and abuses of human rights the prevalence and impunity of such criminality in turn undermines the Rule of Law and can lead to the perpetuation of other forms of serious crime.

Our resolutions on trafficking, including the one we just adopted, clearly acknowledge the link between trafficking in persons and sexual violence and exploitation. This is evidenced by the grotesque crimes committed against women in conflicts. We have heard ourselves, first-hand, from the Yazidi survivor, Nadia Murad, last December. Another example is the reports of violations and sexual abuses against children in Myanmar and of their trafficking for sexual purposes in Bangladesh as a result of the mass displacement of persons along these countries' borders. Children are often especially targeted as victims of trafficking – with lifelong consequences.

Mr President,

We must ensure that we can identify and provide proper aid and support to the victims of trafficking. To effectively combat trafficking of persons especially in conflict situations it is imperative that we secure the evidence so that perpetrators can be brought to justice. Let me make four points on how we can tackle this horrifying crime.

Firstly, the UN presence in conflict situations can play an important role in response to trafficking in persons through support for capacity-building and reform efforts in national institutions, and by enhancing national authorities' ability to fight and ultimately prevent serious crimes. UN missions also have a role in the protection of civilians, including those at risk of being trafficked. At the global level, this Council can play its role by including relevant criteria for the listing of traffickers or their supporters in sanctions resolutions. The newly established sanctions regime for Mali, which also targets organized criminals where they contribute to the obstruction of implementation of the peace agreement, is an example of this.

Second, building strong Rule of Law institutions is essential. This includes improving our capacity to secure evidence in conflict situations. In this regard, we look forward to the work of the team being established to secure evidence of crimes committed by Daesh in Iraq. Cooperation between global and regional organisations such as Interpol and UNODC, and between national law enforcement agencies, is also essential. The work of the UNODC on trafficking in persons, which is enhancing our knowledge and understanding of this topic, is particularly welcome. In addition, international legal assistance arrangements can play an important role, as an essential tool to fight transnational crime. And, a robust international legal regime on trafficking in persons should provide a framework for all of our work.

Third, we must remember that trafficking is, in essence, a criminal, albeit cynical, business model, capitalizing on the vulnerabilities of persons. Therefore, we must hit traffickers where it hurts them most, by going after the assets from this criminality. Assets that also help finance both organized crime groups and terrorist groups.

And fourthly, traffickers are enabled by instability, poverty and inequality. By creating peaceful, prosperous and inclusive societies, the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development can be a powerful tool. By working to combat these crimes we are also contributing to building and sustaining peace in societies.

Mr President,

Human trafficking by its nature is a crime that exists below the radar for the vast majority of people. Those who are trafficked are a hidden population; kept in the shadows – where the unspeakable crimes committed against them remain unseen. However, we cannot allow the suffering and violations of human dignity to go unheeded and unpunished. We must shine a light into the darkness, we must name and shame these criminals and work together to bring an end to this despicable enterprise.

Thank you.


Lisa Laskaridis
Head of Press and Communication, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN
Phone +1 212 583 2543
Mobile +1 917 239 0941
email to Lisa Laskaridis