Mobilizing Around the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons

CATW International September 1, 2017

CATW had a busy summer advocating for the rights of women and girls at the United Nations. With the third appraisal of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons occurring during the annual meeting of the General Assembly at UN Headquarters this month, we have been working intensely to ensure that women and girls are not forgotten as UN member states reassert their commitments to fighting human trafficking.

To that end, CATW co-sponsored a multi-stakeholder panel at UN Headquarters in June with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), UN Women, the Permanent Missions of Sweden and Panama to the UN, and Equality Now. “Using the Global Plan of Action and the Sustainable Development Goals to End the Scourge of Trafficking in Women and Girls” brought together speakers from civil society, UN agencies and the arts community to highlight the acute vulnerabilities women and girls face as victims and survivors of human trafficking, and that make them susceptible to trafficking. In a powerful moment at the event, Withelma “T” Ortiz Walker Pettigrew, survivor leader and advocate, spoke about the vital need to bring survivors to the decision-making table at all levels as experts in ending human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. To watch the panel in its entirety, check out SayNO - UNiTE to End Violence Against Women’s Facebook Live broadcast.

That same month, CATW attended the General Assembly’s Multi-stakeholder Hearing on the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. The hearing sought input on the Global Plan from civil society, so CATW staff had the opportunity to speak at two sessions. In the morning, our executive director, Taina Bien-Aimé, reminded UN member states that international law, including the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons (Palermo Protocol), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the 1949 Convention, recognizes the crime of sex trafficking as clearly distinct from labor trafficking, and the exploitation of prostitution as distinct from forced labor.

In the afternoon, we announced the launch of the 5.2 Global Partnership, a multi-stakeholder group initiated by CATW, that calls on member states to adhere to their commitments to address violence and discrimination against women and girls as human rights violations. The initiative is rooted in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which has set the agenda for governments to address the world’s most significant challenges by 2030. The SDGs dedicate three targets related to human trafficking. In particular, SDG target 5.2 seeks to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual exploitation. The 5.2 Global Partnership is a critical reminder that governments must invest equally in combating all forms of human trafficking.