UN officials urged the international community to strengthen collaborative efforts to combat human trafficking on Tuesday at a special General Assembly [official website] meeting. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) [official website] estimates that there are at least 2.4 million victims of human trafficking at any given moment. They also believe that the profits from the human trafficking trade rival those of the illicit drug market. In his remarks at the meeting Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile] implored countries to merge their national efforts with international ones. He urged [statement] countries to follow the protocols set forth in the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children [text, PDF]. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, the current president of the body, organized the special meeting of the General Assembly. He too urged member states to take action [statement] in the fight by donating to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for the victims of human trafficking [official website]. The fund provides support for the victims, especially women and children, who are most often forced into the trade. The meeting was designed to raise increased awareness about the problem of human trafficking worldwide, but also to ask for increased support from the governments of the member states.
Human trafficking has become an increasingly scrutinized issue in recent years, both in the US and abroad. In August 2011, the UN Special Rapporteur on human trafficking urged Thailand [JURIST report] to crack down on human trafficking, especially with regard to children subjected to sexual and labor exploitation. In September 2010, the US Department of Justice [official website] brought charges [JURIST report] against six people in the largest US case of human trafficking. In June 2010, the UNODC issued a memorandum [text, PDF] that human trafficking is becoming a major problem in Europe [JURIST report]. Also that month, the US State Department [official website] released its annual report [text, pdf] on human trafficking, concluding [JURIST report] that the US has a "serious problem with human trafficking, both for labor and commercial sexual exploitation."