Trafficking in Children and the Best Interests of the Child
17th Alliance against Trafficking in Persons Conference
Countless children across the OSCE region and beyond are increasingly vulnerable to violence and exploitation. As pointed out by the 2016 UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, almost one in four detected trafficking victims is a child. Likewise, UNICEF’s 2016 report on The State of the World's Children estimates that 5.5 million children are engaged in forced labour, with thousands more subject to abuse, forced into marriage and coerced into militias. The 17th Alliance against Trafficking in Persons high level conference held on 3-4 April will thus focus on child trafficking and the best interests of the child.
As children are hugely at risk of exploitation and being subjected to forced labour, sexual exploitation, early (forced) marriage, organ removal, begging and criminal activities such as drug carrying, an effective response is urgently needed. Indeed, “there is a great urgency to protect this most vulnerable section of society and to act now in their best interests, for regardless of a child’s age, status or origin, their trafficking as a lucrative and viable criminal enterprise simply cannot be allowed to continue.” said OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Madina Jarbussynova.
Building recommendations through continuity
Since the establishment of the Office and post of the OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking and the adoption of the OSCE Action Plan on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, considerable efforts have been made to address new trends and patterns in human trafficking by making use of the Alliance conference platform.
Last year’s 16th Alliance against Trafficking in Persons Conference raised the issue of how people, in particular children and vulnerable groups, are trafficked for the purpose of forced criminality, while the 15th Alliance conference discussed the then new trend of human trafficking along migration routes.
Building upon these previous conferences, the 17th conference will provide a forum in which participants will analyse case studies, exchange good practices and develop more integrated, effective and expert recommendations to adequately respond to child trafficking in a manner respectful of human rights.
Such practical and child-focused recommendations should help participating States implement OSCE anti-trafficking commitments, prove useful for the work of all Alliance partners and inform upcoming UN forums, such as the high-level meeting to review progress achieved in the implementation of the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, the recently adopted 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as the UN Secretary-General new global study on the situation of children deprived of liberty.
International experts place comprehensive spotlight on child trafficking
As in previous years, this year’s Alliance Conference will bring together a broad forum of participants from across the 57 OSCE participating States and 11 Partners for Co-operation, along with major international organizations, NGOs, academia, civil society, trade unions, think-tanks and the media, with the ultimate goal of comprehensively addressing all aspects of child trafficking.
Opening remarks will be delivered by Lamberto Zannier, Secretary General of the OSCE, Madina Jarbussynova, OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Ambassador Michael Linhart, Deputy Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, 2017 Austrian OSCE Chairmanship. Fr. Michael Czerny S.J., appointed by the Holy See as Under-Secretary in the Vatican’s Migrants & Refugees Section, will use his opening remarks to place special emphasis on children on the move, including unaccompanied minors and internally displaced children. According to UNICEF, not only did the number of children (25,846) crossing the Mediterranean double last year when compared to the previous year, nine out of ten of these children were unaccompanied.
The plenary panels will welcome a number of internationally renowned experts and practitioners, representing national authorities, international organizations and civil society. They will lead conference participants through discussions of pressing topics in the area of child trafficking, including threats facing children in crisis situations, factors heightening child vulnerability, the adequacy of existing child protection systems and general policies and measures which may foster the best interests of children. The conference will also give an insight into concrete cases of child trafficking in the OSCE region.
Thematic sessions at the 17th Alliance Conference will complement the subject matter of the main plenary sessions by addressing the issues of children and youth at peril of being trafficked for the purposes of terrorism (Russian only); prevention of early (forced) marriage among vulnerable groups; challenges and best practices regarding legal frameworks and practical measures for conducting child Interviews in human trafficking Investigations and, finally, a forthcoming review of the UN Global Plan of Action in Light of New Human Trafficking Trends
Follow the conference and engage with leading anti-trafficking experts on Twitter via @osce_cthb using the hashtag #cthb17.
The conference will be streamed live online.
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Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
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Videos of the 17th Alliance conference
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