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UN expert calls on Security Council to address trafficking as human rights issue

NEW YORK (26 October 2018) ­– The UN Security Council should ensure women take a greater part in peace building processes as a way to prevent human trafficking and tackle exploitation before, during and after conflicts, a UN expert says.
Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, said that trafficking must be considered as a violation of human rights, not just a security issue.

“Trafficking, which mostly affects women and girls, often gives rise to further gendered harms such as unwanted pregnancy, forced abortion and sexually transmitted infection; yet protection measures, such as access to shelter, food, education for children, as well as sexual and reproductive health provisions, are not systematically included in peace processes and agreements,” Giammarinaro said in a report to the General Assembly.

The Special Rapporteur said including more women in conflict and post-conflict responses would raise awareness about the vulnerabilities of women and girls. “Designing and implementing relief and recovery measures for victims of trafficking in close cooperation with survivors and organisations promoting women’s rights is instrumental to preventing trafficking and re-trafficking, and contributes to women’s empowerment,” Giammarinaro said.

If trafficking is not confronted, there is a danger it becomes entrenched in countries that were rebuilding after a conflict. “Preventive anti-trafficking measures should be considered both as life-saving interventions and as being aimed at preventing violence against women,” the independent expert said.

“It is vital that trafficking be fully integrated into the Security Council’s ‘Women, Peace and Security’ agenda, which prioritises the importance of women’s participation throughout the peace process, from conflict prevention to peacebuilding and peacekeeping.” The agenda is underpinned by four pillars – Prevention; Participation; Protection; and Relief and Recovery – which are the foundation for states to build their own National Action Plans on the issue. 

“Trafficking needs to be fully integrated into these four pillars, to ensure more effective human rights-based and gender-sensitive anti-trafficking responses and long-term solutions for survivors in conflict and post-conflict settings,” the UN expert said.


Ms. Maria Grazia Giammarinaro (Italy) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2014. She has been a judge since 1991 and currently serves as a judge at the Civil Court of Rome. She was the Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings of the OSCE, and served in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice, Freedom and Security in Brussels, where she was responsible for combating human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. Ms. Giammarinaro drafted the EU Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests please contact: Thibaut Guillet (+ 41 22 917 9158 /tguillet@ohchr.org) or write to SRtrafficking@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact: Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org.