SRSG Maalla M'jid calls for strengthening of national and cross-border systems to combat trafficking in children that remains a high profit–low risk crime across regions

Vienna, Austria, 4 April 2022 - Special Representative Maalla M’jid called for a paradigm shift to combat trafficking in children at the 22nd Conference of the Alliance against Trafficking in Persons” organized by OSCE in Vienna, Austria.

"Trafficking in children continues to be a high profit–low risk crime, based upon the principles of supply and demand. Despite our collective efforts, the scale of child trafficking remains an overwhelming concern, as children account nearly one-third of all identified victims. We must move away from siloed and unsustainable approaches. Our vision and action must be broad, based on a child-rights, life cycle and cross-sectoral approach, ensuring complementarity between humanitarian, security and people-centred development. 'reminded Dr. Maalla M'jid.

In her remarks, the Special Representative highlighted three key factors that "foster the vicious cycle of the trafficking market: the increasing vulnerability of children worldwide due to various and interlinked factors; growing local and global demand for child labor, child sexual exploitation, child illegal adoption, child enrolment in criminal or armed groups; and growing and increasingly organized clandestine, lucrative global criminal activity, underpinned by evolving technologies.

"We must strengthen and scale up national and cross-border across-sectoral systems, involving child protection services, national anti-trafficking coordinators and law enforcement agencies to ensure child protection and safety and to hold traffickers accountable.  Based on learnings from the ongoing and previous experiences, we need a paradigm shift. We must see spending on these integrated across sectoral systems as a key investment to protect duly and sustainably children from violence and trafficking. This calls for strong political will, translated into sufficient financial resources, well-staffed services and social workforce, effective coordination, information sharing, monitoring s as well as accountability mechanisms," added SRSG Maalla M'jid.

The two-day high-level meeting under the theme "“Protection: upholding victims’ rights and strengthening assistance” brought together key stakeholders from across the OSCE region and focused on protection and assistance, specifically the application of a victim-centered approach to support victims of trafficking in human beings and uphold their rights. 

Participants drew attention to the importance of granting trafficking victims’ access to comprehensive assistance as part of a durable solution aimed at full recovery and (re)integration. Furthermore, the conference provided a platform to take stock of existing protection systems and their capacity to provide comprehensive assistance to all victims of human trafficking; improve understanding of the myriad vulnerabilities that need to be addressed to ensure State protection efforts are inclusive and effective; outline gaps in State identification and assistance mechanisms; and outline potential solutions for filling these gaps

In her concluding remarks, SRSG reminded the importance of ensuring that all actions to address child trafficking are informed and shaped by children’s experiences, as "they know best where the system has failed them the most".