Response to the OSCE Special Representative for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings | Statement to the PC

Flags of the OSCE participating States outside the Hofburg Congress Center in Vienna, Austria (USOSCE/Colin Peters)

The United States welcomes Ambassador Jarbussynova to the Permanent Council.  Ambassador, thank you for efforts and for the accomplishments of the Office of the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings highlighted in your report. The United States strongly supports the work of the OSCE Special Representative and that of her staff, as well as the work across all OSCE structures on combating human trafficking.  

We share Special Representative Jarbussynova’s concern that the current migration crisis in Europe puts more people at risk of human trafficking. Migrants are frequently at risk of trafficking at various points along their journey from origin to destination, and we all need to do more to prevent them from falling prey to traffickers.  In this regard, we support OSCE efforts such as the simulation training exercise held in Vicenza, Italy, to train various stakeholders on best practices for victim identification and protection, investigation, and prosecution of trafficking, and look forward to future training sessions next year.

We also strongly support Special Representative Jarbussynova’s call for more awareness raising among migrants of the dangers of trafficking, and also look forward to concrete work on this next year. While we do understand that migrants and refugees are also vulnerable to human smuggling, as we said in Hamburg, we do not support enlarging the mandate of the Special Representative to encompass human smuggling as well as human trafficking. While we recognize that both endeavors represent criminal and in many cases transnational activities, we consider that these are distinct crimes which are more effectively addressed separately.  Therefore, we do not want to take valuable resources away from the focused work that the Special Representative’s Office is doing to combat human trafficking.

The United States also supports ongoing OSCE work to address trafficking and other forms of labor exploitation in global supply chains to ensure that governments and businesses do their utmost to implement ethical sourcing practices. Governments, in particular, can lead by example through their procurement policies by implementing measures to prevent trafficking in persons and related activities in their own supply chains, working towards transparency and accountability for violators, including criminal sanctions, and by encouraging dialogue and partnerships to bring businesses together with anti-trafficking and labor rights experts.  

The United States welcomed the high-level conference held in Berlin in September on Preventing Trafficking in Human Beings for Labor Exploitation in Supply Chains. We were disappointed that the Ministerial decision on Strengthening Good Governance and Promoting Connectivity adopted in Hamburg did not acknowledge this event, nor did the decision adequately reflect the need to address trafficking in human beings in supply chains.  We look forward to working with the incoming Austrian Chairmanship to substantially address this as a priority issue during 2017. We also request that OSCE executive structures provide a briefing to participating States on the task given in 2013 to update relevant internal regulations to ensure that no activities of the OSCE executive structures, including contracts for goods and services, contribute to any form of trafficking in human beings.

The United States welcomes Ambassador Jarbussynova’s continued work to raise awareness of the potential for human trafficking related to the crisis in and around Ukraine. We support her work to ensure that the activities of the OSCE missions there do not contribute to trafficking, and that the missions have the tools necessary to monitor and report on trafficking-related issues.

We are pleased to hear that Special Representative Jarbussynova and ODIHR are coordinating in their efforts to combat trafficking. We also welcome ODIHR’s work on combating trafficking, including that on which Special Representative Jarbussynova and her office will cooperate with ODIHR as ODIHR updates its handbook on National Referral Mechanisms, first published in 2004.

Finally, I would like to express our appreciation for the visit that Ambassador Jarbussynova made to the United States earlier this year. We look forward to continued cooperation with her and the Office of the Special Representative.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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