Manila: Addressing human trafficking is a “joint responsibility of all UN member states”, the Philippines pointed out recently in New York as it called on the world body to step up their respective efforts against this global menace.

During the 4th Ministerial Meeting of the Group of Friends United Against Human Trafficking held at the sidelines of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 26, Philippines Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Evan Garcia underscored that fighting human trafficking is a joint responsibility of member states — whether these be countries of origin, transit or destination.

Garcia said combating human trafficking is a core advocacy of the Philippines given that a large number of Filipinos, an estimated one out of 10, works abroad as indentured labour.

“Protection of the welfare and rights of Filipinos overseas is a pillar of Philippine foreign policy,” he was quoted as saying in a report by the Department of Foreign Affairs during the UN event in New York.

The Philippines’ efforts to rally other states in fighting human trafficking is understandable — the country continues to suffer from the effects of a negative image abroad as a perceived source of trafficked persons.

According to the US State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP), the Philippines is a major source of labour and remains “to a much lesser extent, a destination and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour.”

“A significant number of Filipino men and women who migrate abroad for work are subsequently subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude. Men, women, and children are subjected to conditions of forced labour in factories, at construction sites, on fishing vessels, on agricultural plantations, and in the shipping industry, as well as in domestic service and other service sector jobs in Asia and increasingly throughout the Middle East,” the TIP said.

Being such, the Philippines tried to address the scourge of human trafficking by calling on other UN-member states to take measures against this.

According to Garcia, among the efforts drawn up by the Philippines to combat the human trafficking include enhancing efforts on information sharing, adopting of a human rights based approach to combat trafficking in persons, promoting the ratification of the Palermo Protocol and the full and effective implementation of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.

The Philippines and Belarus, as well as 18 countries across all regions, had founded the Group of Friends United against Human Trafficking. It is as an informal, voluntary, and open-ended association of UN Member States aimed at reinvigorating the global fight against trafficking in persons.

At the heart of the initiative is promotion of the Global Plan of Action against Human Trafficking which engages critical stakeholders such as Governments, civil society, mass media, and private business.