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Welcome Remarks at the Second Inter-Ministerial Meeting of the COMMIT Process by Mr. Khalid Malik, United Nations Resident Coordinator

January 07, 2008

On 14 December 2007, the United Nations Resident Coordinator spoke to the second Inter-Ministerial Meeting of the COMMIT process.

December 14, 2007

Excellencies, Distinguished Government Delegates, Colleagues from the UN system, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good Morning.  It is my great honour this morning to welcome you to this second Inter-Ministerial Meeting of the COMMIT process on behalf of the United Nations system.
Tackling human trafficking is a challenge which cuts across both national borders, and across different sectors of Government. As you will know better than most, preventing the illegal movement of such exploited people across the countries of the region is an important and legitimate national and regional public security concern.
It is also, of course, a development concern. Poverty is both a cause and a consequence of trafficking. The poorest people – women and children in particular – can be amongst the most vulnerable to the traffickers. Once people become trafficking victims, they are placed in situations where their basic rights are denied. Those trafficked into the sex industry are often not provided with condoms and are thus vulnerable to AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Those living and working in the most exploitative conditions in factories face great risks of contracting other contagious diseases. And their access to basic health and education, and to other vital social services, is minimal or non-existent.
As human trafficking is such a multi-sectoral challenge, it is entirely appropriate that the United Nations is so strongly engaged with the COMMIT process. It is hard to think of another field which better illustrates the way in which the three pillars of the UN’s work – peace and security, development, and human rights – are inextricably interlinked. I am therefore pleased to pledge the ongoing strong support of the United Nations in each of the six countries to the COMMIT process and the broader fight against trafficking.
But while the UN can support, advise and facilitate the process, it is Governments who must take the lead, in partnership with other national stakeholders. Looking back at the last three years since the last meeting in Yangon, it gives me great pleasure to see that this is exactly what has happened. In the COMMIT process, we have an all too rare example of a cross-border Government-led process delivering results according to international standards. I congratulate all of you who have been involved in putting this partnership together and bringing it to where it is now.
Of course, this is a fairly new partnership, tackling a large and complex problem, and there is a lot of work ahead. But we should take a moment to reflect on some of the practical outcomes that the process has already helped to deliver. In the area of victim protection, for example, I know that all six countries have already shared their experiences, and have together developed new guidelines which are now in the process of being adopted and implemented in each country. I also know that the new forum for exchanging urgent counter-trafficking information has already been put to good use. Grassroots NGOs are now starting to be able to share the information they have with the authorities, and this is delivering real impacts in terms of local law enforcement against the criminals involved in trafficking.
So, what must we do to ensure such early progress is maintained and built upon?
First, I hope all of us here today can recommit to this important work, and to take further practical actions to combat trafficking, protect its victims and prosecute its perpetrators;
Second, I hope that all of us working in this field across the six countries can also commit to ensure that all our work is consolidated and harmonized within the COMMIT process, so that we maximize our synergies and eliminate duplications;
Third, I would encourage you all to share the results of your work through regional and international fora you attend, in order that others can learn from your rich experiences. Human trafficking is, after all, hardly a problem found only in this part of the world.
In closing, I would like to thank all of you here today, from Government, civil society, and the international community, for your commitment to this vital work. I thank the Government of China, and Minister Meng Jianzhu in particular, for their leadership and for their kind hosting of this meeting. I thank all the senior officials who have worked so hard over the last two days to prepare us for today. And lastly, I should thank the staff of the UN Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region, UNIAP, for all their work in preparing and organizing this meeting.
Excellencies, Distinguished Government Delegates, Colleagues from the UN system, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I hope that in our discussions today we will reaffirm the importance of our work – on behalf of the most vulnerable – to take on the criminal elements that perpetuate human trafficking, and to eventually make human trafficking a thing of the past.  It is a difficult task, but it can be done. 
Thank you.

Source: UNIAP China 


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