State action vital in fight against human trafficking: Ex-top figures including former president of Mongolia

As the international measures taken against human trafficking, one of the most serious side 

effects of the globalization, proved to remain insufficient, nation states should step in for the solution of bleeding problem, former world leaders said yesterday, closing the 17th Eurasian Economic Summit.

“Human trafficking and involuntary migration demand a common will and joint efforts by all of the world’s states in order to be solved,” former Estonian President Arnold Rüütel said during the last session of the two-day summit.

The speakers that included president of Bosnia Herzegovina and former presidents of Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Mongolia, Romania, and Slovenia as well Bashkan of the Autonomous Region of Gagauzia of Moldova, highlighted advantages that could be yielded by wider and deeper interference of nation states into the fight against “involuntary migration.”

Despite acknowledgement of their efforts, the international organizations such as United Nations and European Union, as a body that defines itself responsible in promotion of such humanitarian principles, have been blamed for not addressing the issue enough, in several speeches.

During the presidents session of the summit, where the main theme of “glocalization” interprete deeply, the issue of human migration was discussed with respect to a wide-range of topics.
As one of those aspects, the human trafficking has been approached as “an alarmingly large economic sector,” in various speeches delivered during the conference.

“The slavery practices of the past, which were kept on in a latent, suddenly exploded in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century in Europe as a billion dollar business, second as profitability after drug trafficking,” Former Romanian President Emil Constantinescu stated.

“At $400 billion in 2012 and the expected $515 billion in 2015 the levels of migrants’ remittances are many times higher than official development assistance (ODA) and roughly equivalent to the total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI),” according International Organization for Migration figures conveyed by former Slovenian president Danilo Türk.

The speakers, coming from a wide geography, had different views on the subject based on their national experiences.

Despite the global spillover impacts of involuntary immigration, some shared their first-hand experiences with the consequences of the issue, while others looked from an international perspective.
For example daily politics and national strategies in Bosnia Herzegovina have been shaped by this issue for centuries, president of the country, Zivko Budimir, said in his remarks.

Bosnia and Herzegovina ranks the second country after Albania that has the highest rate of immigration with more than 1 million immigrants living in the country, World Bank data quoted by Budimir revealed.

Meanwhile, as a counter example, in Mongolia’s case, where human trafficking is not a major issue considering the country’s loose residential conditions, the government doesn’t experience major problems except some problems of short-term migrants, Mongolia’s first president Punsalmaa Ochirbat has said.

In respect of sending countries, because of the apparent reasons as poverty and poor living conditions, people from some parts of the world are more likely to pursue “dream of a better world,” and they require more attention, the presidents’ speeches stated.

“Asia is the most problematic in the world when it comes to this issue as there, around 10 million people are classed as slaves. In Latin America the respective figure is around 1.3 million, and in Africa, it is around 660,000,” Rüütel said.

Post-communist societies in transition, particularly Eastern Europeans, are also vulnerable to human-trafficking threats, as the sudden transition to free market economy stirred strong desire to immigrate to “an idealized West,” as Constantinescu put it.

The international data establishes that around 500,000 women and children brought from Far East and Middle East and sold in Western Europe alone. Especially trafficking of girls and women is observed in the 85 percent of the conflict zones, figures show, revealing the sexual exploitation and prostitution constitutes a major risk.

It is also noted the illegal human trade is encouraged by the rising demand for cheap labor from the West as much as rising desire to flow to West.

The nations’ responsibilities differ based on the geography they are located at, as the characteristics of human movement type and amount they witness changes according to their locations, the speeches indicated.

Eurostat data, reminded by Rüütel shows that, altogether, 9,528 victims of human trafficking were identified among the 27 member states of the European Union in 2010. And that from 2008–2010 alone, this figure rose by 18 percent.

“Concerned about world and regional security issues, about political and economic reforms, European leaders seemed overwhelmed by the magnitude of this phenomenon,” Constantinescu said.

Despite it adopting a strategy aimed at “Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings,” which covers policies regarding the issue between the years 2012 and 2016, the European Commission’s efforts would go to waste without cooperation with member states, former leaders underlined.

As most of the speakers were from countries that were mostly passed through, instead of being final destinations, they all touched upon the responsibilities of such countries.

Increased security measures taken in these countries would enable early prevention of humanitarian disasters, they noted.

Still, the governments should lean on education as the key infrastructural requirement for yielding effective results from all the measures discussed through the panel, the former leaders unanimously said.

The significance of the civil society’s role was also highlighted, particularly in becoming a part of the education efforts, as well as the process of raising international awareness of the issue.

7 February 2014

Hürriyet Daily News
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