Committee: Social, Cultural, and Humanitarian (SOCHUM)
Delegate: Allison Wei, Troy High School
Human trafficking is degrading of human dignity on all accounts. But more than a simple assault of morality, human trafficking’s enslavement of an estimated 40.3M persons has resulted in a tremendous loss of productivity and social and economic potential. Australia recognizes human trafficking for the heinous crime that it is, and is an active actor in combating human trafficking both regionally and internationally. As a Tier 1 human trafficking country – Tier 1 being the best – Australia emphasizes these three focus areas in the fight to eliminate human trafficking: 1) establishing regional and international partnerships 2) promoting transparency and accountability in the finance sector, and, 3) victim support.
Although Australia itself is not a human trafficking origin hotspot, like many other countries, it is nonetheless a part of the global network that trafficking occurs through. Each year, 3,000 to 10,000 people are trafficked into Australia the majority of these being female migrants from Asia. Therefore, due to the international nature of human trafficking, it is extremely necessary to establish regional partnerships to rescue human trafficking victims most effectively. Australia itself has partnered with the Association of Southeastern Nations (ASEAN) for 15 years. Along with ASEAN, Australia recently launched the $80M ASEAN-Australia Counter Trafficking Initiative; this 10-year program conducts skill training sessions for police and judges, bolstering the capabilities of the legal sector to handle the risks and responsibilities posed by human trafficking. Ultimately, this is part of a global effort to hold traffickers accountable by strengthening judicial frameworks. Overall, regional partnerships allow for effective coordination of law enforcement activities and investigations so that victims are able to get the justice they deserve in the fastest, safest, way.
Australia has also worked to combat human trafficking through financial means. Seeing that over $150B is made from human trafficking annually, there is no doubt adequate financial incentive to support this horrendous practice. In fact, modern day slavery in the form of forced labor is embedded into global supply chains. To address this problem, Australia passed the 2018 Modern Slavery Act. Under this bill, large corporations that intake over $100M annually are required to identify and report on the risks of human trafficking in their supply chain. Australia strongly recommends that other countries quickly pass similar legislation. Not only does this hold companies accountable for their actions, but it also fosters much needed awareness on the business sector’s role in human trafficking. Such legislation is especially urgent when considering the circumstances that lead to trafficking in the first place. Too often, victims of human trafficking are small business owners without a reliable, safe line of credit financing. Without any other options, they turn to risky borrowing and labour migration practices, leaving them vulnerable to human trafficking. At the same time, this also encourages forced marriage (which is closely associated with the growth of human trafficking) to raise human capital. Considering that there are over 200M small business owners in emerging economies alone, the risks and stakes are incredibly high. However, just as finance can incentivize human trafficking, it can also be a tool for tremendous good. On an international level, the financial sector can be used to stop human trafficking in unparalleled ways. Australia partnered with Liechtenstein and the Netherlands to create the Liechtenstein Initiative (also known as “FAST” Initiative): a financial framework to combat human trafficking. Under the FAST framework, the finance sector works to assist human trafficking initiatives in various ways, such as cooperating in human trafficking investigations, creating policies that exclude firms that utilize forced labor, and raising funds to ensure that victims are supported and aren’t vulnerable to being trafficked again. If the FAST blueprint were to fully implemented globally, modern slavery could very possibly be eradicated by 2030.
However, law enforcement, legal, and finance based solutions are only part of the equation. At the very heart of combating human trafficking is victim support. Throughout decades, Australia has consistently supported community groups and NGOs that provide resources to human trafficking victims, approving packages totaling $150M. Victim support is in fact a key pillar of Australia’s National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking from 2015-2019. First and foremost, victims can only be supported properly if they are identified properly. Therefore, we must be cautious to quickly criminalize and instead, conduct careful (and safe) initial screenings of at risk populations for human trafficking – migrant workers, foreign students, and workers in the commercial sex trade for example. Since many human trafficking victims are migrants, it is important that there is legal protection so that they can temporarily (or even permanently) reside in countries while their case is being investigated. In many cases, foreign students and migrants continue to be trafficked out of fear that they will be deported back to their native country or deemed in violation of their immigration status. We cannot allow potential deportation to be used as a threat against victims. Australia offers temporary 30 day visas while a victim’s case is processed, and allows for extensions upon victim cooperation with law enforcement. Most importantly, victims should receive legal, medical, mental, and financial support as they progress in their recovery. Additionally, educational and employment opportunities are vital to ensuring that victims do not fall back into human trafficking. All throughout this process, victim’s identities should remain confidential to protect their privacy and prevent retaliation by traffickers – under Australia’s Trafficking protocol, we do this by anonymizing sensitive identifying data. As important as victim support is, there isn’t nearly enough resources or funding. Australia calls upon its fellow member states to renew their commitments to funding victim support and compensation, as necessary.
Australia looks forward to collaborating with delegates in committee to uphold our universal human rights and preserve the dignity of all global citizens in abolishing human trafficking.
- Allison Wei