On December 10, 11 and 12, 2010, personalities from all over the world, politicians, activists, experts, representatives of both governmental and non-governmental organisations, businessmen, artists, etc., assembled in Luxor, Egypt in order to participate in the Global Forum against human trafficking and set the strategies, practices and methods that will contribute to the prevention and suppression of Trafficking; this modern form of slavery with millions of victims, mainly women and children, and billions of profits for the traffickers, who are committing one of the greatest and more horrible crimes against humanity.
The Global Forum was held in Luxor, under the initiative of the Suzanne Mubarak Women’s International Peace Movement and the collaboration of the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT), the Orascom Telecom Holding, Manpower, The GAP, Microsoft, the World Bank and the Vital Voices Global Partnership organisation.
The Forum participants were, inter alia, the President of the Suzanne Mubarak Women’s International Peace Movement and First lady of Egypt, Mrs Suzanne Mubarak, Queen Sabeeka of Bahrain, Princess Basma of Jordan, Princess Mathilde of Belgium, Aga Khan, Baroness Mary Goudie, member of the British House of Lords, the former First Lady of the Republic of Poland, Mrs Jolanta Kwasniewska, the Executive Director of UNODC, Mr Yury Fedotov, the Secretary-General of INTERPOL, Mr Ronald Noble, the former UN Secretary-General, Dr Boutros Boutros Ghali, the Director of the Library of Alexandria, Dr Ismail Serageldin, the actress Mrs Demi Moore with her husband Mr Aston Kutcher, Mrs Luce Doucet, BBC journalist etc. The Greek participant was the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and member of the Board of Trustees of the Suzanne Mubarak Women’s International Peace Movement, Mrs Marianna V. Vardinoyannis.
The forum is the third big step of the International Campaign End Human Trafficking Now, a very important initiative of the Suzanne Mubarak Women’s International Peace Movement. The campaign began in Athens in January 2006 with the round table Business Community against the Trafficking of Human Beings”, organised by Mrs Suzanne Mubarak and Mrs Marianna V. Vardinoyannis aiming at composing and signing the moral code of conduct named Athens Ethical Principles, which includes the basic principles of the End Human Trafficking Now campaign. The code was next presented in the World Economic Forum in Davos and then it was promoted to the entire world. Till now, hundreds of businessmen have signed it, committed to adopt zero tolerance policies against the traffickers. The second big step of the campaign was the organisation of the International Conference “Human Trafficking at the Crossroads of East- West” which was realised on March 2009 inManama, capital of Bahrain.
The objectives of the Forum in Luxor were
promoting of the dialogue and collaboration among the governments, international institutions, governmental and not governmental organisations, organisations of the society of citizens and youth as well as personalities that fight against Trafficking,
underlining the priorities that should be given in conducting the fight for its suppression, based on the updated data and
mobilising as many high-ranking political factors as possible
The Forum began with a speech by Queen Sabeeka of Bahrain, connecting the Bahrain conference with the Luxor one, posing the vital question What is there after Manama?. A speech by Princess Mathilde of Belgium followed with the topic Vulnerable people are in danger, then the speech by Rex W. Tillerson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Exxon Mobil Corporation on the topic Building sufficient collaborations for the success of collective efforts and the speech by Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, who referred in detail to the firm commitment of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, for the prevention and suppression of Trafficking, presenting a video recorded message ofΒ Mr Ban Ki-moon.
The inauguration session of the Forum closed with a speech by Mrs Suzanne Mubarak, who, addressing the participants, asked them to look at their watches and said:
One second from now somewhere in the world a young woman will fall into the hands of traffickers to be sexually exploited;Β 5 minutes ago a poor family accepted a nominal amount of money in return to send their ten-year-old daughter to a big city in order to work in a supposedly decent place, as a lady of the evening, few minutes ago or few minutes later hundreds of boys and girls were or will be forced to work to the limits of exhaustion in diamonds mines and even more children from Β big cities are being kidnapped only to be found with a kidney less the following morning, while the one missing has been sold in the open market at a high price β¦
Then, Mrs Mubarak set the main axes of the Forums work pointing out that even if 10 years has already passed since the Protocol of Palermo to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, the victims of Trafficking are constantly increasing. As she underlined, this of course does not mean that considerable progress has not been made so far in many sectors concerning the prevention and repression of trafficking, such as the awareness of the common opinion, the promotion of cross-country collaborations, the reinforcement of legislation concerning the punishment of traffickers and the victims protection; it rather means that a lot more should be done mainly based on two axes: firstly, by increasing the safety measures for the people and secondly by strengthening the vulnerable groups of the society.
Mrs Mubarak did not omit to highlight that the businessmen have one of the leading roles in the fight against human trafficking, as most of the Trafficking victims are being trafficked through their enterprises and call them to sign the Athens Ethical Principles.
Β However, she said closing her speech, because the fight against human trafficking is long and difficult, we should all be engaged in it. The efforts of the international organisations, the non-governmental organisations, the mobilisation of youth and business community, the mass media, and the society of citizens organisations are not enough; neither are the cross-country collaborations and strategies nor the stricter lawsβ¦ We all need everybody. I want the taxi driver, the greengrocer, the cashier of supermarket, the bank employeeβ¦ everyone to be with us. It is only in this way that we could eliminate this horrible crime against humanity; maybe not tomorrow but surely some time in future β¦
During the Forum works, all speakers pointed out the importance of the Athens meeting in 2006 and the End Human Trafficking Now campaign which emphasised the significance of the contribution of the enterprising community, demonstrating the businessmens decisive role in the prevention and repression of Trafficking. According to the speakers, the media, youth organisations and the internet also have leading roles in the fight against Trafficking.
In the frame of the Forum, an electronic programme-tool against Trafficking was presented, created by the End Human Trafficking Now campaign and the UN.GIFT in collaboration with Microsoft. It is a educational programme for businessmen, managers and employees which teaches how to locate the networks that the traffickers use in order to intrude their enterprise and what protection measures can be taken in order to stop them and lead them to justice.
In the Forum, the film Not my life by Robert Bilheimer, Oscar winner, was featured; a film punch in the stomach, concerning the terror and plight that the Trafficking victims suffer from in every corner of the world. It is based on true stories and has an important message: as long as the majority of the world remains unaware and indifferent about Trafficking, this problem of already enormous dimensions will always deteriorate.
Finally, in the Forum, the set of a special and unique prize was announced as a reward by the UN.GIFT, the UN Global Compact and the End Human Trafficking Now campaign, which will be granted each year to the businessman who will contribute with devotion and action to the trace and extermination of trafficking networks. The reward is sponsored by the house of Chopard.