On December 7th, 2023, Ambassador Beresford-Hill intervened during the Security Council’s session on Threats to International Peace and Security: Transnational Organized Crime, growing threats, and new challenges. This marked the 5th time the Sovereign Order of Malta has spoken at the Security Council since July 2023, signifying our enhanced presence and influence on the most significant forum in international diplomacy. The statement served as an essential reminder to the global stage that thousands of women and children in Ukraine and Gaza are susceptible to the heinous activities of transnational human traffickers, who seek to commercialize despair and contribute to the vile system of modern slavery plaguing our world.
Ambassador Beresford-Hill emphasized that victims of Human Trafficking are overwhelmingly women and children, with 50% of victims being exploited for sexual purposes. Importantly, he illustrated how this issue affects every part of the globe, serving as a point of origin, transit, or destination. These assertions clarified that collective and cohesive action is imperative, as the current detection mechanisms fail to combat transnational criminal networks effectively. He supported this argument by highlighting the substantial gap between official detection statistics and the estimated number of global victims. The statement revealed that disunified law enforcement efforts are exploited by transnational criminal organizations, leading to Human Trafficking contributing at least $150 billion annually to criminal revenues. This exacerbating phenomenon is intensified by COVID-19, climate crises, and worsening global conflict, making vulnerable groups even more susceptible to Human Trafficking networks.
Ambassador Beresford-Hill proceeded to outline the Order of Malta’s operations on the front line of the fight against Human Trafficking in Ukraine. He described our collaboration with mobile phone carriers and telecommunication companies early in the conflict to disseminate information effectively, sending out texts in multiple languages to inform refugees about the issue of Human Trafficking. Additionally, we collaborated with the UNHCR and the Red Cross to expand our outreach, operating in the largest refugee population centers. This illustrated the effectiveness of a cohesive response to Human Trafficking and demonstrated to the Security Council the tangible gains of the methods we promote.
Following this, the attention of the Security Council was directed to “the potential for a major Human Trafficking harvest when hostilities finally cease in Gaza.” Ambassador Beresford-Hill specifically underscored the vulnerability of up to 17,000 orphans in Gaza to manipulation and exploitation by transnational criminal organizations. He called upon UN agencies and NGOs operating in the region to be hyper-aware of this phenomenon and, consequently, to tailor their relief efforts to prevent another humanitarian disaster. Ambassador Beresford-Hill referenced Cardinal Pizzaballa’s concerns, emphasizing that unless the needs of these children are considered by those responsible for the reconstruction of Gaza, “many young Palestinians will be further destroyed along with any hope of a positive future.”
Ambassador Beresford-Hill concluded by reaffirming the essential nature of cooperation and collaboration in the fight against Human Trafficking. He illustrated how prevention, detection, and treatment are all enhanced by multiple stakeholders strengthening their efforts to share resources and information. He implored the Security Council to bolster their efforts to facilitate inter-agency bilateral, regional, and international cooperation; otherwise, transnational human traffickers will continue to benefit from an incohesive law enforcement effort.