In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly held a meeting to appraise the Global Plan of Action to Combat trafficking in persons. The plan, adopted in 2010, urges governments worldwide to take coordinated and consistent measures to defeat trafficking in persons. The plan also called for the integration of the fight against Trafficking in Persons into UN’s broader programmes in order to boost development and strengthen security worldwide.
So, in 2013 when the United Nations General Assembly met to appraisal Action Plan, a resolution was adopted that designated July 30 as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. The resolution declared that such a day was necessary to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”
But one would then ask whether UN observances are really that important. In the ideal world, UN observances contribute to the achievement of the purposes of the United Nations Charter and promote awareness of and action on important political, social, cultural, humanitarian or human rights issues. These observances provide a useful means for the promotion of action and stimulate interest in United Nations activities and programmes.
As the world commemorated the first World Day against Trafficking in Persons yesterday, the actual numbers of persons caught in situations of modern day slavery remain largely unknown. However, a conservative estimate puts the number of victims at any one time at 2.5 million. The second most common form of trafficking in persons is forced labour exploitation, although this may be a misrepresentation because it is less frequently detected and reported compared to trafficking for sexual exploitation.
Uganda’s initiatives on combating trafficking in persons remains very progressive. July 30 provides opportunity and space to reinforce and reaffirm our country’s commitment and constitutional responsibility to protect its citizens.
As this year marks the inaugural observance, actors on combating trafficking in persons in Uganda should firmly identify priority interventions and take stock of achievements, challenges and progress made in fighting this crime.