Action Must Follow Sustainable Development Goals on Human Trafficking

At the end of this year the timeline for the U.N. Millennium Goals will come to a close. The lofty aspirations of the Millennium Summit fifteen years ago may not have been fully realized, but the concrete, measurable results they have yielded are commendable.

Global leaders recently joined together to create a set of new 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the next 15 years. Among them: a commitment to “eradicate forced labor and human trafficking and end child labor in all its forms.”

The inclusion is significant. It’s estimated that over 20 million people are victims of modern day slavery. The scourge knows no borders and reaps an estimated $150 billion annually for its perpetrators.

Yet, as Nobel Laureate and anti-trafficking hero Kailash Satyarthi commented in the wake of the announcement, action must follow. “Freedom has always been considered a matter of human rights, but for the first time it has been acknowledged that without freedom there can be no development. But now the question is how to implement it,” he said.

As leader of the Save the Childhood Movement, Satyarthi has rescued thousands of children from debt-bondage and forced servitude. He knows from experience that without action, awareness is meaningless.

Traffickers operate globally and across industries, aided by a vast network of financial and logistic support. Compounding the problem, profits are often unknowingly created and filtered by legitimate businesses because of vulnerabilities in supply chains and a lack of understanding about human trafficking. Efforts by the U.N., law enforcement, and NGOs, therefore, must make business engagement a priority if real change is to take place over the next 15 years.

And it’s time for governments to put sufficient resources into the anti-trafficking fight as they team up with businesses and civil society.

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Published on October 15, 2015

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