Response to OSCE Special Rep. for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings: Statement to the PC

The United States warmly welcomes Ambassador Jarbussynova to the Permanent Council, and applauds her efforts and the accomplishments of her Office highlighted in her report. The United States strongly supports the work of the OSCE Special Representative and of her staff.

We also support related OSCE activities focused on prosecution, protection, and prevention, as reflected in the goals of the OSCE Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings and the 2013 Addendum to the Action Plan.

We appreciate Special Representative Jarbussynova’s insights on trafficking and migration, and share her concern that the current migration crisis in Europe puts more people at risk of trafficking. Her presentation highlights the need for each of our countries to take responsibility to proactively identify and assist victims of trafficking, and to prevent traffickers from exploiting migrants, including when migrants are merely passing through our countries. As Ambassador Jarbussynova points out, migrants can be at risk of trafficking at various points along their journey, particularly if their money runs out—or is stolen—and they become desperate and easy prey for traffickers. We appreciate the Special Representative’s proposed program to strengthen government capacities to identify and assist victims of trafficking, which will include training for some 200 concerned stakeholders from OSCE participating States as well as Partners for Co-operation, focusing on the Mediterranean migration routes.

The United States also welcomes Ambassador Jarbussynova’s work on Ukraine. Her quick and well-informed efforts to train both OSCE monitors and Ukrainian authorities to identify and report possible instances of trafficking and coordinate effective response help to mitigate the humanitarian costs caused by Russia’s occupation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine. We greatly appreciate her ongoing efforts to ensure that the OSCE prioritizes trafficking prevention.

We welcome OSCE work on fighting domestic servitude in diplomatic households and the publication and dissemination of a handbook on the issue. This fall, the United States launched a new in-person registration program to help protect domestic workers employed by foreign diplomats in the Washington, D.C. area. We understand that this program was inspired in part by the excellent work the OSCE has done in this field. Similar programs in other OSCE participating States play critical roles in providing oversight and preventing exploitation.

The United States also supports OSCE work to address trafficking and labor exploitation in global supply chains to ensure businesses and governments are committed to implementing ethical sourcing practices. Human trafficking and labor exploitation can take place along any part of these supply chains – in the extraction of raw materials, in the component manufacturing stage, or in the production stage. Governments can lead by example by prohibiting trafficking in persons and related activities in their own supply chains, working towards transparency and accountability for violators, and by encouraging dialogue and partnerships to bring businesses and anti-trafficking/labor rights experts together. In this regard, the United States has ramped up its own efforts in the last few years to address human trafficking in our procurement supply chains through legislation and Executive Orders.

In addition to governments, businesses must be concerned not only with the products they source but also with the labor of those who work in the industry. All parts of the global supply chain – workers, business partners, suppliers, investors, consumers, along with government unions and civil society – have an essential role to play, and we should encourage them to craft robust anti-trafficking and labor rights policies. The United States highlighted this issue in the 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report and in the Human Rights Report.

As Ambassador Jarbussynova mentioned, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly passed a resolution on trafficking and supply chains at its annual session this year, sponsored by the OSCE PA Special Representative on Human Trafficking Issues, U.S. Congressman Chris Smith. New federal regulations also took effect in March of this year aimed at strengthening efforts to prevent human trafficking and related activities by U.S. contractors.

Ambassador Jarbussynova, your work is a priority for the United States. In fact, just yesterday as part of the US presidency of the UN Security Council, we hosted a meeting on “Trafficking in Persons in Situations of Conflict: ISIL and Beyond.” This is the first time the UN Security Council has held a meeting solely on the topic of trafficking in persons.

Finally, I would like to welcome Ambassador Jarbussynova to the United States early next year. We very much look forward to her country visit.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer to the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna