World Day of Social Justice

Keynote by Germany's Ambassador to the UN, Harald Braun, on human trafficking and forced labour

Keynote Speech Ambassador Braun on the occasion of the ILO-event “Human Exploitation- Ending Human Trafficking and Forced Labor” For the commemoration of the World Day of Social Justice.

Declaración | 19 de febrero de 2015
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Excellencies, Ms. Stewart, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank the ILO for initiating this event on the occasion of the commemoration of the World Day of Social Justice. As you know, Germany is a staunch supporter of the ILO and its efforts in strengthening global action to end human trafficking and forced labor. That is why we are very pleased to sponsor this event together with Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines and the United States.

The World Day for Social Justice highlights our obligation to support the creation of the one thing that people all over the world requested in recent UN-surveys. The people asked for decent jobs in the first place. One of the goals in the outcome of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals deals with the promotion of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. For the implementation of this goal, Member States suggest, inter alia, to call for immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The essential elements of a comprehensive and effective response to forced labor and human trafficking will be addressing prevention, prosecution and victim protection.

Forced labor does not exist in a vacuum. It is an extreme manifestation of gaps in a wide range of policies, institutions and enforcement mechanisms.

It is poverty and extreme poverty in its many dimensions that create the vulnerability which leads to new forms of labor exploitation and modern forms of slavery. Migrant workers and indigenous people are particularly vulnerable to forced labor.

According to the most recent ILO estimates, at least 21million people are victims of forced labor globally. 150 billion USD in illegal profits are generated in this way every year. This is an unbearable situation!

We have a long way to go, but we have to do it faster. It is high time that the 2014 ILO Protocol and Recommendation on Forced Labor significantly modified the Forced Labour Convention of 1930. This new instrument will help to strengthen our global efforts and reaffirm our obligation to punish perpetrators by ending the impunity that is still pervasive in so many countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Germany is working very actively within the United Nations and other international fora to combat modern forms of slavery. Germany voted for the adoption of both the 2014 Protocol and the Recommendation on Forced Labor during the last International Labour Conference. We have also ratified ILO’s Domestic Workers’ Convention. Every year, in collaboration with the Philippines, Germany sponsors a resolution in the Human Rights Council on combating human trafficking.

Germany’s strong commitment to fighting the trafficking in persons and to assisting the victims of human trafficking is also underlined by the fact that Germany has been a major donor to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for the Victims of Contemporary Forms of Slavery in recent years. In addition, Germany provides assistance to numerous NGOs worldwide working in this field.

As the current Presidency of the G7-group, my country supports projects to combat illicit human trafficking and also promotes such projects with a focus on North Africa on a bilateral basis.

On the national level, Germany is responding to the call to address the challenge of human trafficking and forced labor in an integrated and coherent way by initiating a roundtable of all relevant actors, State institutions, social partners and related nongovernmental organizations, which will hold its first meeting next week.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We do hope that many others will also consider a timely ratification of the Protocol and set up national action plans to fight forced labor and human trafficking.

Will that be enough? Probably not. Pope Francis said on the occasion of the celebration of the World Peace Day in his message entitled “Slaves no more, but brothers and sisters” : (I quote) “We ought to recognize that we are facing a global phenomenon which exceeds the competence of any one community or country. In order to eliminate it, we need a mobilization comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself.” (End of quote)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Everybody has to join in the fight against modern forms of slavery.

Every human being has the right to live in dignity and freedom. This conviction is the foundation of Germany’s commitment to protect and promote human rights on all levels. I can assure you that my country will continue to play an active role in the fight against the heinous scourges of human trafficking and forced labor.

I am sure you will have a lively discussion on this and thank you for your attention.