Statement by the Deputy Permanent Representative of Cuba, Ambassador Ms. Ileana Núñez Mordoche, thematic discussion of the General Assembly on Human Traficking. New York, 3 June 2008.
Human trafficking continues to increase as part of an international crime trend, despite being a contemporary and abhorrent form of slavery whereby the human being is utterly degraded, violating its most basic rights.
Provided this crime’s transnational character and its rise, it is necessary that countries of origin, transit and destination join forces, cooperate among themselves and share the responsibility to prevent human trafficking, protect its victims and prosecute those responsible of such trafficking. Today, no country, whatever powerful it may be, is ready to tackle this complex phenomenon by itself.
Conservative estimates indicate that between 600 000 to 800 000 people are subject to international trafficking every year. An estimated 80% of those victims are women or girl children. It has been further estimated that this global crime industry generates yearly profits of between 7 and 10 billion dollars, with low risk, high profit rates and minimum investments. This crime is connected to others such as money laundering, drug trafficking and people smuggling.
Little is said about the real causes of this phenomenon, boosted by the existence of more than 2.1 billion people under extreme poverty who live basically in developing countries; more than 850 million hungry, whose number will grow from the crisis of food prices and more than 800 million adult illiterate, of which two-thirds are women.
The roots of human trafficking lie in underdevelopment and poverty. This dreadful reality brings about that many people, attempting to migrate to improve their working and living conditions, are deceived and enslaved by the traffickers.
From the opulent side of the world come factors that encourage and impose at the same time human trafficking. The industrialized countries are the main destination of this trafficking, because, due to banal and stereotyped consumption patterns, as well as their high and exaggerated income based on the neoliberal globalization that benefit them, they promote the sex industry and the increasing demand for women, girl children and boy children for this purpose; the consumption of sex tourism and pornography, including child pornography, and the use of internet to facilitate all kinds of exploitation of this sort; the sale of children and their organs; and servitude.
Thus, in order to draw up a credible UN anti-trafficking in persons strategy, it is necessary to advance in the creation of a more just, equitable and supportive international economic order, which allows bringing the terrible international inequality to a halt.
Furthermore, a genuine international cooperation is required, which support the national efforts against trafficking and be based in strict respect for International Law and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, particularly the sovereignty of States, non-interference in their internal affairs and respect for their territorial integrity.
It is also vital to implement instruments such as conventions on the eradication of discrimination against women and on the rights of the child, the protocol of the latter on the sale of children, prostitution and child pornography and the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its optional protocols. It is also necessary to meet the commitments against trafficking made at international conferences and summits, including the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
To make progress in a cooperation strategy, double-standard policies, hegemonic positions and unilateral evaluations of other countries must cease, for they are contrary to the principles of international cooperation. Unilateral actions are doomed to failure, since rather than helping, they hinder the fight against international crime linked to trafficking.
The US actions of determining, without right, who does well or bad in fighting trafficking in and smuggling of persons are at odds with a viable and effective strategy. Such behavior is hardly acceptable when reports of this country’s authorities say that 50 000 women and children are annually trafficked across its borders to be cruelly exploited.
We cannot accept in silence that this country, where millions of undocumented people smuggled into the country survive on its streets, without any rights and carrying out the dirtiest jobs, accuses others of not working to prevent smuggling and illicit human trafficking.
For Cuba, this is all the more unacceptable when we there is the so-called Cuban Adjustment Act in force in the US. This act, one of its kind in the world, gives Cubans arriving in the US through illegal ways and without restriction, the right to residence and other privileges that no other person of any nationality receives. With this legislation, of clear destabilization aims and political motivations, illegal exits toward US territories are encouraged, through very insecure channels, which have claimed hundreds of human lives.
Faced with this situation and in order to help tackling people smuggling, most of the time associated to trafficking in persons, Cuba proposed several years ago a cooperation agreement to the US government. There were no conditions whatsoever, yet it was incomprehensively rejected.
Cuba has a long and honorable record in the promotion and protection of all human rights for all. The Constitution, the legislative, judicial administrative and other measures, adopted since 1959, protect women and children, as vulnerable sectors of the population.
The permanent work to create and provide equal opportunities and conditions for all, including the once discriminated against Cuban woman, is an important contribution against trafficking in persons. The Cuban Government, notwithstanding the US blockade against my country, has guaranteed a normal development for all its citizens, through a coherent and operative implementation of strategies, plans and programs, with a new social, cultural and political conception. Our advances in social prevention and attention are many.
The position that women have attained, their cultural, technical and professional level, their high rates of economic, social and political participation, the radical changes in their thought and life, as well as the recognition of their rights are important aspects of social progress that do not favor trafficking.
Finally, I can assure you Mr. President, that Cuba will continue to advocate for a wider international cooperation to fight the scourge of trafficking in persons and I reiterate to you our Government’s political will to contribute to the world undertaking to eradicate this and other kinds of related crimes that affect humanity today.