Vienna, Austria –
The United States is urging U.N. member states to criminalize
all aspects of child sexual exploitation -- sexually explicit
images of children, child-sex tourism and the victimization
of children through prostitution -- so that perpetrators
of these crimes are held accountable for their actions.
“While there are various existing
international instruments that address these issues in one
form or another, numerous countries have not fully enacted
legislation to address the criminal offenses as set out
in existing instruments,” Deputy Assistant Secretary
of State Elizabeth Verville told USINFO. Verville, who is
leading the U.S. delegation to the 16th session of the United
Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice,
being held in Vienna, Austria, April 23 – 27, is the
State Department’s expert on international crime for
its Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement
The U.S.-drafted resolution “urges
member states to consider implementing the existing international
legal instruments by criminalizing all aspects of child
sexual exploitation,” Verville said, adding that “the
United States will work with other countries to help to
maintain the UNODC’s [United Nations Office on Drugs
and Crime] focus on its core mandates starting with promoting
the U.N. organized crime and corruption conventions as well
providing anti-crime technical assistance.”
Verville said that international cooperation
is critical to preventing and effectively prosecuting serious
crimes with a transnational dimension.
“As criminal networks diversify their
methods and the scope of their illicit activities, countries
must be more vigilant in working together to hinder criminals’
advantages in crossing borders,” Verville said.
MORE SPECIFIC ACTION NECESSARY TO FIGHT
In his remarks for the April 23 opening
session for the crime commission, Antonio Maria Costa, executive
director for UNODC, called for more action and less talk
in fighting human trafficking.
“It is now time to move from statements
of intent and legislative mandates into realizations of
goals and delivery of results,” he said.
“Despite the emotions this issue [human
trafficking] stirs up, and despite the good crop of protocol
ratifications ,” Costa said, “this horrible
business is spreading, facilitated by ever-growing demand,
opening of markets and easiness of communications.”
At a press conference the same day, Costa
said the benefits of globalization unfortunately have been
exploited by criminal elements. Multilateral actions by
all governments, nongovernmental organizations and civil
societies must be called into the fight against transnational
crime, he said.
“The preconditions for multilateral
actions are there,” he told journalists. “Now
the challenge for us all -- and, of course, for governments
to begin with -- is to turn these instruments into reality,
implementing them in a way which would make a difference,
especially for those who are hurting -- they are usually
the poorest and weakest in our society.”
MORE KNOWLEDGE NEEDED TO FIGHT TRANSNATIONAL
In his formal remarks, Costa emphasized
that “despite the fact that transnational crime is
one of the greatest threats to security, we operate in an
“We do not know the scope of the threats
we face, and we cannot gauge global crime trends. At times,
we cannot even define the enemy we face or assess its strength,”
“Anecdotal evidence is abundant –
yet confusing – about human trafficking rings broken
up, traffickers prosecuted, victims rescued, corrupt public
and private officials indicted, boat-loads of smuggled migrants
intercepted, and shipments of illicit firearms seized. All
this needs to be systematized and rendered coherent,”
“Multilateral crime control is at
its infancy, but maturing,” Costa said.
GLOBAL INITIATIVE SEEKS TO FIGHT HUMAN TRAFFICKING
In March, UNODC launched the Global
Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT). The
United Arab Emirates contributed $15 million to the initiative.
Costa called UN.GIFT “a far-reaching
effort to develop, upon the foundation provided by international
legal instruments, an unprecedented operational effort to
fight human trafficking – enhancing awareness, mobilizing
political will, canvassing resources to assist member states
and to help those most vulnerable to, and affected by, this
The United States estimates that between
600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked across international
borders each year. The United Nations and others estimate
the total market value of human trafficking at $32 billion
In fiscal year 2006, the U.S. government
obligated approximately $74 million to 154 international
anti-trafficking in persons (TIP) projects in 70 countries
and $28.5 million to 70 domestic anti-TIP projects. These
projects are working to ensure human trafficking is prevented,
the survivors are protected and the traffickers are put
in prison. They are funded through the coordinated efforts
and program funds of the departments of State, Justice,
Labor, Health and Human Services, and USAID.
Each year the Department of State publishes
a comprehensive report
on trafficking in countries around the world."
A fact sheet
on U.S. anti-trafficking funding for fiscal 2006 is
available on the State Department Web site.
text of the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized
Crime and related documents on trafficking in persons
are available on a U.N. Web site.
text of Costa’s formal remarks is available on
the UNODC Web site.
For more information on U.S. policies, see
Smuggling and Trafficking.
USINFO Staff Writer