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Security Council Open Debate on "Trafficking in persons in conflict situations"

Tuesday, 20 December 2016
Security Council Chamber


I wish to thank you for convening this Open Debate on trafficking in persons in conflict

situations. I also wish to thank our briefers for their informative presentations.

Mr. President,

The problem of trafficking in persons in conflict situations is multi-faceted. It invariably

cuts into other equally pressing issues such as migration, counter-terrorism, genderbased

violence, money laundering, poverty alleviation, and the protection of children.

The multi-faceted nature of trafficking in persons in conflict situations therefore

requires a multi-faceted response - one that seeks to understand the problem from a

political, socio-economic, even cultural perspective, and brings together government, civil

society and the private sector in both the domestic and international fronts.

The Philippines considers trafficking in persons, including in conflict situations, a core

national concern. Allow me to share some initiatives that the Philippines and our partners

have undertaken in this area:

1. The Philippines, with 10 percent of its close to 104 million population being migrants,

has made the protection of Filipino migrants one of its foreign policy pillars. The

Philippines' experience in migration and human trafficking has led us to pursue efforts

for the de-criminalization of victims of human trafficking for acts directly arising from

their situation as trafficked persons, regardless of nationality, immigration status, and

initial consent to being trafficked, or other personal circumstances. Victims of human

trafficking must be accorded equal access to justice in countries where they find

themselves in, regardless of their immigration status.

The Philippines, together "~ith the United States, is working to bring this issue of

migrants and human trafficking to the forefront through the Migrants in Countries in

Crisis Initiative, a voluntary government-led multi-stakeholder consultative initiative to

improve responses for migrants in countries experiencing conflict or natural

disaster. It covers migrants in conflict situations who are vulnerable to human


2. A solid legal framework coupled with strong institutions capable of implementing the

relevant regulations is also essential. The Philippines has established a


comprehensive mechanism to protect Filipino migrants based upon a framework of

laws, regulations, policies and programs, and institutions using a migrant-centered

approach to the entire migration cycle - from pre-employment, transit, on-site

employment, return migration and eventual reintegration. The combined effect has

resulted in the successful prosecutions of perpetrators of human trafficking.

Furthermore, the Philippines' 3rd National Strategic Action Plan Against Trafficking in

Persons aims to establish a clear system that links all processes -- from intervention,

prevention, protection, and investigation to prosecution -- that would result to a better

implementation of existing policies and programs and the formulation of more strategic

ones, and reinforced by a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation framework to

track progress.

3. Adopting a one-country tP.Dm and multi-stakeholder approach has proven to be

effective. This consolidates the mandates, efforts, resources and interests of the duty

bearers and stakeholders - namely, civil society organizations, faith-based groups,

and the private sector, as well as national and local agencies in the bureaucracy - in

coming up with a robust response. For the Philippine Government, this has also

enabled us to mainstream the interventions down to the grassroots level by activating

local structures such as the City and Municipal Councils Against Trafficking And

Violence Against Women And Children, and the Barangay Council for the Protection

of Children.

A multi-stakeholder approach also promotes awareness of the problem and

challenges at the local, national and global levels.

4. In the context of counter-terrorism, it is important to examine trafficking corridors and

the business flow of trafficking to:

a. Strategically locate victims and traffickers in the entire process, and build systems

and structures, such as effective victim identification, at critical points of

intervention where victims are the most visible and can be rescued;

b. Identify critical points ;r. the business flow where we can deal the strongest blow

to the operations of trafficking syndicates. This requires for example, financial

investigations in partnership with the anti-money laundering council, and digital

forensics in collaboration with internet service providers.

c. Expose new means employed by traffickers, and develop strategies and programs

to specifically arrest such means.

5. In the socio-economic context and as a prevention measure against violent

extremism, poverty alleviation programs targeting conflict-torn areas should integrate

trafficking in persons as an indicator. These programs should promote resiliencies at

the household level by ensuring that persons in armed conflicts have access to

economic services and opportunities, making them less vulnerable to trafficking.

6. The matter of the use of children for armed conflict, where young men and boys are

recruited into civilian armed groups, rebel groups and at times by the military as

informants, is of particular concern to the Philippines. This is one area where armed


conflict and unstable peace and order situations increase the vulnerabilities of children

and youth. Government's efforts are focused mainly on expanding prevention efforts

against the recruitment a. 11.l use of child soldiers, vigorously investigating allegations

and holding the perpetrators accountable, and reinforcing the capability of front-line

officers on appropriate methods to assist children apprehended from armed groups.

7. The Philippine recognizes that trafficking in persons also involves issues of genderbased

violence. To address this, programs, including humanitarian interventions, that

aim to directly address the needs of trafficked persons in conflict situations must be

instituted. During the siege of the city of Zamboanga in southern Philippines in 2013,

the Philippine Government activated a structure called the Gender-Based Violence

Cluster composed of law enforcers and social welfare service providers that

specialized in gender issues. The Cluster served to address the needs of women and

children in conflict situations, especially in terms of mitigating vulnerabilities to sexual

violence and trafficking. Services included access to protective information, to

psychosocial and trauma-informed care and to protective custody, and access to

economic advancement such as education, employment and enterprise.

8. People from conflict zones will find means to migrate to safer communities. Traffickers

tend to leverage on this to transport their victims. The challenge is for government to

accumulate data on such movements in order for it to develop appropriate policy and

programs. If an interventi.-;r1 is to be developed, there must be, apart from policy, a

mulit-sectoral coordination mechanism involving stakeholders along the trafficking

transport route to stop trafficking as it happens.

Mr. President,

The Philippines' greatest challenge today in the issue of trafficking in persons in

conflict situations is the lack of accurate data to measure the extent of this problem. This

is where the United Nations and cooperation with Member States can greatly help. We

welcome the recommendation in the Secretary General's report for UNODC to lead in the

development of a data collection system and for Member States to submit information in

this regard. From the Philippines' point of view, Member States can benefit from an

international structure that integrates and shares intelligence, studies and mechanisms

that would help identify, quantify and assess the prevalence of trafficking in persons in

conflict areas. This same structure could also provide expert advice and technical

assistance to Member States in the formulation, implementation and validation of

programs, such as the national action plan, so that national initiatives are responsive and


With comprehensive and c-ccurate data on hand, Member States can develop,

implement and enforce the appropriate laws, policies and programs to prosecute

perpetrators, and provide the necessary assistance to victims.

I thank you, Mr. President.

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