The Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, is attending and there will be a performance by the World Peace Choir Festival, featuring 650 children from across the globe.
Following the performance the children will release 500 blue heart-shaped balloons to demonstrate solidarity with the victims of human trafficking and to give a message of hope for their freedom.
Trafficking in human beings (THB) is a global problem and a thriving criminal industry that affects the lives of millions of children, women and men around the world who are trapped in a type of modern day slavery, the EU’s law enforcement agency Europol said in a statement.
The UN is highlighting the need for an improved coordination of efforts to bring down the organised criminal groups involved.
Human trafficking is defined as the act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring or receiving a person through the use of force, fraud, deception or other means with the aim of exploiting them.
The UNODC acknowledges that it is difficult to assess the real magnitude of human trafficking because it is often not identified, or misidentified.
However, a conservative estimate puts the number of victims at any one time at 2.5 million. According to the UNODC, the most common form of trafficking in persons is for sexual exploitation, at 79 percent.
Many victims are also trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and domestic servitude.
A major problem in the EU, according to Europol, is the growing number of cases involving trafficked adults and children who are forced into committing crimes like burglary and property crime, fraud and swindling, pick-pocketing, shoplifting, metal theft and street begging.
The majority of victims reported to Europol are EU citizens that have been trafficked and exploited within the EU. They can fall into the hands of traffickers both in their own countries and abroad. 61 percent of the victims reported to Europol are women, 26 percent men and 13 percent are children.
“Human trafficking is not only a grotesque violation of human rights, it is a lucrative crime for the traffickers,” said Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol.
“We as law enforcement must better understand the nature of the crime that we are trying to confront - for example, labour exploitation and child trafficking are often undetected due to the lack of a proactive approach to look behind legal and other illegal activities.”