Remarks during a Panel Discussion Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol (via VTC)

Ambassador Kelly Craft
Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 9, 2020


Good morning from New York. Welcome distinguished participants and guests. Thank you all for joining us. We’re especially pleased to be co-hosting this event with the Governments of Peru and Sierra Leone – it’s wonderful to see the Attorney General and Vice President joining us today as well. And I must give a special recognition to Grace Forrest, whose father, Andrew, is a close personal friend, and they are the founding directors of Walk Free.

It is remarkable to consider that the United Nations did not exist more than 75 years ago, and, alarming to think that just a couple of decades ago, there was no Palermo Protocol.

Generations of victims were trafficked – abducted and forced into labor and sexual slavery – and there wasn’t the coordinated commitment of governments to stop it. And even with our efforts today, the reality is that millions of people are being exploited by human traffickers as we speak.

In preparing to speak with you today, I heard two stories – human tragedies that are just but a glimpse at the horrors facing so many. Sofia from Romania, landed in Italy with her new fiancé, excited to start a new life. Her so-called fiancé handed her an itemized bill for every meal, trip, and gift he ever purchased for her, and forced her to engaged in commercial sex to reimburse him.

Madhu was thrilled when so-called “recruiters” offered him good wages in a Bangalore factory. After moving, he quickly realized the factory became a prison, where he was forced to work 12-hour shifts for four years packaging chemicals under hazardous conditions.

The landmark Palermo Protocol has served as the foundation for concerted international action to combat millions of cases like these. Global efforts to combat human trafficking have become more victim-centered and trauma-informed in approach, and we have gained invaluable insights from survivors. We have been given the task of delivering on the promise of laws and building on the efforts of those who came before us.

The United States has long been at the forefront of these efforts, and President Donald J. Trump has given it even greater emphasis over the last four years. He understands that cooperation among communities and nations is the best way to defeat this scourge.

That is why in January of this year, he hosted a White House Summit on Human Trafficking, and signed an Executive Order to provide more tools to protect victims and prosecute traffickers. I share the President’s commitment to this issue, and just next week will be traveling to Washington to participate in a meeting of his Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

I appreciate today’s opportunity to mark the progress we have all made over the last 20 years. It is undeniable that the world community is now more aware of this horrific crime and more determined to end it.
Such progress is worth celebrating; however, we must do so much more. Criminals involved in human trafficking are taking advantage of failing governments, operating with accomplices overseas, and using forged documents to move victims across porous borders.

We need rigorous implementation of the Protocol by all governments. We must put our decades of collaboration, research, and experience to full use, support survivors by giving them voice and justice, and provide perpetrators no place to hide.

No nation can tackle this challenge alone, and that is a fact confirmed by the Palermo Protocol. We must expand our collaboration, and ensure that multilateral institutions, the private sector, civil society, faith-based organizations, and even individuals are working toward the same goals. This is why I’m so pleased that we have such a diverse audience and group of esteemed speakers here today.

As we work toward the next milestone, I hope that – together – we continue to make progress toward the realization of the UN’s founding ideals and the eradication of human trafficking.

Thank you, and with that I would like to introduce Ambassador John Cotton Richmond, the United States’ Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.