Explanation of Position Statement by Fredrick Barton, U.S. Minister Counselor to the Economic and Social Council, on the UN Global Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons

Ambassador Rick Barton
U.S. Representative for Economic and Social Affairs 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
July 30, 2010


Thanks to Mr. President and thanks to the Ambassadors of Cape Verde and Portugal and the many negotiators who were so helpful in this process. For his fine work over the years, special thanks to Executive Director Costa as well.

The United States is deeply committed to combating trafficking in persons. With the adoption of the United Nations Protocol on Trafficking in Persons in 2000, the international community defined trafficking in persons for the first time at the international level and agreed to prevent and combat it, as well as to protect and assist its victims. In doing so, it gave a new name to an old crime. "Trafficking in Persons" has since been used as an umbrella term for all activities involved in obtaining or holding someone in compelled service -- whether sex trafficking, involuntary servitude, slavery, debt bondage or forced labor. The United States is proud to join with the 116 countries that enacted legislation prohibiting all forms of trafficking and is eager to work collaboratively to address the many systemic factors -- from supply chain sourcing and government procurement to immigration and shelter policies -- that may contribute to trafficking in persons. As we look to new ways to engage and tackle this crime, we maintain the primacy of the Protocol and its mandate to bring traffickers to justice while protecting victims.

The United States maintains its position that the focus of international anti-trafficking in persons efforts should be on universal ratification and implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its supplementary Protocol on Trafficking in Persons – not on the establishment of a new mechanism in New York. The TIP Protocol serves as the cornerstone for effective action in ending human trafficking. Ultimately, the political will of governments is vitally important in the fight against trafficking in persons.

Despite our concerns on the necessity of a global plan of action, we have collaborated in good faith to ensure that this document is as strong as possible while not creating any parallel New York process and not overriding the Palermo treaties or the mandate of the UNTOC Conference of the Parties in Vienna. We think the final text of the document reflects this for the most part. We appreciate the efforts of the Co-Facilitators and the main supporters of the Global Plan of Action in addressing our concerns.

With regard to paragraph six of the General Assembly resolution, it is the view of the United States that this should be limited to an agenda item in the UN General Assembly where member states would self report on their efforts to implement the Global Plan of Action. The United States will not object to the current language of paragraph six; however, we will not support efforts in the future to turn the Global Plan of Action, or any mechanism that may be established to review implementation of this action plan, into a formal ongoing mechanism in New York that will divert resources from technical assistance and other activities related to the Palermo Protocol.

Human Trafficking is a threat to national security, public health, and democracy. Real action is needed on the ground to combat trafficking, and it is our hope that the General Assembly resolution and the annexed Global Plan of Action will lead to universal ratification and implementation of the Protocol.

In view of the critical importance of ending human trafficking, we are pleased to join consensus on this resolution and the annexed global plan of action.


PRN: 2010/156