DECEMBER 10, 2017


Recent reports on the widely condemned slave trading in Libya is the tip of a scandalous iceberg of trading humans worldwide. There are no specific figures, yet visibly millions of refugees and migrants, whether in their own country or across borders, are vulnerable to exploitation. Whether through arranging boat rides across the Mediterranean, smuggling individuals hidden in cars across land borders, or sexually harassing and exploiting destitute women, crimes are committed repeatedly, daily, on every continent.

Similarly, repulsive trading in human organs, particularly in assembled locations like large camps where there are hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Rohingya, Nepal and India, in addition to those held on islands near Australia or between England and France at Calais.

No country is immune. No government could claim national sovereignty in such cases. It is no longer an internal issue; it is a cross border growing international problem requiring a definite focus. Women are the widest group of victims, particularly young ones who are exploited morally, physically, and sexually. A special international mechanism to deal with it will have to be created. While the United Nations High Commission for Refugees is making admirable efforts to provide shelter and food for those in camps, U.N. Emergency Relief tries to give emergency assistance to those in need, and the World Food Programme offers food in conflict areas, a new operation is needed to face a newly growing catastrophic human challenge. Combatting trafficking in human beings (and their organs), and exposing traffickers and certain government officials who no doubt conspire with them requires concerted action.

Governments, NGOs, stakeholders, and the general public will have to be part of a conceptual, operational, structured authority. Perhaps a label could easily be found for such an initiative, like: Stop Trading Off People ("STOP") would be a possible proposal for the Economic and Social Council, a General Assembly committee, or even the Security Council to consider. Perhaps France, whose President has indicated action on the slavery criminals in Libya, could play a leading role in establishing an agreed framework. Millions of migrants, refugees, destitute and ordinary people, are facing increasing risk of human trafficking, which is becoming a growing threat to international peace and security and to economic and social development, the main pillars of the United Nations.