NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A resolution urging tougher action to crack down on human trafficking and modern slavery worldwide was unanimously approved by the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday.
The resolution called on countries to adopt anti-trafficking laws, ramp up efforts to investigate and dismantle criminal networks and provide greater support for survivors of slavery.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that trafficking was not just a crime, but also a development issue.
“Preventing the situations that lead to trafficking means addressing poverty and exclusion in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” he told the 15-member council.
The United Nations has a global goal to eradicate forced labor and slavery by 2030 and end all child labor by 2025 – as part of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015 to end poverty, tackle climate change and promote equality.
Guterres urged greater protection and aid for migrants at risk of trafficking in conflict-torn countries such as Libya.
A video appearing to show African migrants sold as slaves in Libya has sparked a global outcry with protests erupting across Europe and Africa, while artists to soccer stars to U.N. officials have made pleas for the abuse to end.
“In recent days, we have all been horrified by images of African migrants beings sold as ‘goods’ in Libya,” he said.
“It is our collective responsibility to stop these crimes.”
The resolution also called for better cooperation between countries and use of data and technology to tackle a lucrative crime estimated to raise $150 billion in illegal profits a year.
“Having a response coordinated across the whole of the U.N. family will be a crucial part of the international methods to combat slavery,” British U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said.
About 40 million people globally were estimated to be trapped as modern slaves in 2016, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) and rights group Walk Free Foundation.