What's In Blue

Posted Thu 24 Oct 2019

Women, Peace and Security: Arria-formula Meeting on Trafficking in Persons

Tomorrow afternoon (25 October), Belgium—together with Peru, the UK, incoming Security Council members Niger and Viet Nam, and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)—is hosting an Arria-formula meeting entitled “Trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation in (post-) conflict situations: integrating a comprehensive approach to trafficking in persons into the women, peace and security agenda of the Security Council”. In addition to the briefers, co-hosts and Council members, UN member states are invited to speak. According to the concept note, the meeting is open to UN member states, observers, NGOs, and the press. It will also be streamed live on UN Web TV.

The co-hosts all have prior interest in or engagement on the topic of the meeting.  Peru, together with Germany, co-chairs the Informal Expert Group on women, peace and security, and the UK is the penholder on women, peace and security issues in general. Viet Nam, during their last term as a Council member, presided over the adoption of resolution 1889, requesting the Secretary-General to submit indicators to the Council on the implementation of resolution 1325, the resolution that established the women, peace and security agenda. Niger is affected by trafficking in persons as a country of departure, transit and destination for trafficking victims.

It seems that the Arria-formula meeting is taking place in connection with the Council’s annual open debate on women, peace and security, scheduled to take place on 29 October. The Arria-formula meeting may give an indication of whether Council members would be interested in a more formal discussion of the issue.

The hosts have invited Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, Simone Monasebian, Christine Chinkin and Cheryl Perera to brief.

Maria Grazia Giammarinaro has briefed the Council during official meetings before. She is the UN’s Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children. She is in New York to -among other things- brief the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural issues.  She is currently working as a judge in the Civil Court of Rome and as an adjunct professor at the National University of Ireland in Galway. She is expected to speak about her 2018 annual report to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, where she focused on the “gender dimension of trafficking in persons in conflict and post-conflict settings and its nexus with conflict-related sexual violence, as it relates to the women and peace and security agenda of the Security Council”. She made specific recommendations to the Security Council, such as the adoption of an approach towards trafficking in persons that is both gender-sensitive and human rights-based. She may refer to these during her statement.

Simone Monasebian is the Director of the New York office of UNODC. She may address how trafficking in persons can constitute a source of revenue for international organised crime and what UNODC does to combat that phenomenon. UNODC’s “Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2018” focuses on trafficking in persons in armed conflict, stating that this “has taken on horrific dimensions” and arguing that “armed conflicts can increase the vulnerability to trafficking”.

Christine Chinkin is professor emerita of international law at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and the founding director of LSE’s Centre for Women, Peace and Security. She may talk about how the Council can integrate the trafficking in persons agenda into the women, peace and security agenda.

Cheryl Perera is a children’s rights advocate and the founder of OneChild, a Canadian charity fighting child sex trafficking. Perera may share her experiences working undercover with Sri Lankan police trying to catch child sex perpetrators.

The goal of the meeting, as stated in the concept note prepared for the discussion, is the integration of the trafficking in persons agenda into the women, peace and security agenda in a manner that incorporates criminal justice, gender, and human rights dimensions. The majority of trafficked persons are women and girls. This goal seems to be in line with efforts by some Council members to integrate the work of the UN in Geneva more firmly into the work of the Security Council in New York. So far, the Security Council has adopted two resolutions addressing the issue of trafficking, S/RES/2331 in 2016 and S/RES/2388 in 2017. In the Secretary-General’s latest annual report on “conflict-related sexual violence”, he noted that this term “encompasses trafficking in persons for the purpose of sexual violence or exploitation, when committed in situations of conflict”.

As stipulated in the concept note, the co-hosts are looking for member states to consider best practices and suggestions for action by the Council. As guidance for those contributions, the concept note puts forward a few questions on trafficking in persons and the women, peace and security agenda. Those include: how the Security Council can mainstream a comprehensive approach towards trafficking in persons in the women, peace and security agenda and its four pillars (participation, protection, prevention, relief and recovery); what instruments already exist in this regard; how to have an approach that includes the entire UN system, including in the field; what role UN peacekeeping missions can play in identifying and reporting cases; how impunity for such crimes can be ended; what measures should exist to reduce women’s vulnerability by ensuring their meaningful participation in resolving conflict and building peace; and what possible mechanisms exist to ensure that survivors have access to legal recourse.

Some members, considering the transnational nature of trafficking, may refer to regional frameworks addressing this issue. Viet Nam and Indonesia, as members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), for example, may refer to the ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

As Arria-formula meetings are not formal meetings of the Security Council, they are not shown on its programme of work, nor are members obliged to attend. Although aspects of the women, peace and security agenda remain divisive in the Council, it is expected that all Council members will attend tomorrow’s event.

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