[Dateline: Vienna | Author: UNODC]
Acclaimed American painter Ross Bleckner was on Tuesday, 12 May appointed a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Goodwill Ambassador to combat human trafficking. It is the first time an artist has been bestowed with the honor to spearhead the campaign against human trafficking.
The United Nations is calling for collective action to end human trafficking and working with partners to scale up efforts at the global level.
The induction ceremony coincided with the opening of “Welcome to Gulu”, an exhibition curated by Bleckner on behalf of UNODC and the International Criminal Court’s Trust Fund for Victims. The UN opening exhibits 200 paintings created by former child soldiers and abducted girls from Gulu, Uganda. Proceeds from the sale of the children’s paintings as well as portraits taken by Bleckner will benefit former child soldiers and abducted girls.
Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of UNODC says: “Art is one of the most powerful advocacy tools to raise awareness and move people to take action. A painting says a thousand words.”
Appointing Bleckner as a UNODC Goodwill Ambassador and opening this exhibition at the UN “provides a unique opportunity to implore others to join us in our fight against conscription of children, and other forms of human trafficking and modern day slavery,” states Mr. Costa. “We know that Ross’ extraordinary commitment to the plight of trafficking victims will move people to take action against modern day slavery,” adds the Executive Director.
On 13 May, the President of the 63rd Session of the General Assembly, Miguel d‘Escoto Brockmann, will convene an interactive thematic dialogue between Member States based on Secretary-General BAN Ki-Moon’s paper called, “Improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons.”
The thematic dialogue, titled: “Taking collective action to end human trafficking”, will focus on recent calls to establish a Global Plan of Action to combat human trafficking. Panels will examine the regional initiatives already underway, and the proposals for scaling up efforts to a global level. Panelists will also offer recommendations for more effective action by Member States, the United Nations system and civil society.
Over the last few years, the General Assembly has placed high emphasis on the topic of trafficking in persons and significant efforts have been made in establishing legal and institutional mechanisms to address this crime. Major progress has been made since the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons entered into force in 2003, but many countries still lack anti-trafficking laws.
UNODC is the lead UN agency fighting all forms of human trafficking including child soldiers, sex slaves, forced labor, illegal adoption, and illegal organ transfers. It works with governments, NGOs, the private sector, foundations, the arts and media community, academia and think-tanks to combat this crime by raising public awareness, engaging in preventative efforts and enhancing the capacity and skills of criminal justice professionals and policymakers.