Using technology to combat trafficking in human beings: OSCE Alliance against Trafficking conference explores how to turn a liability into an asset
VIENNA, 9 April 2018 – How technology can be developed, harmonized and deployed to help combat all forms of human trafficking was the focus of the two-day 2019 OSCE Alliance against Trafficking in Persons Conference, which concluded in Vienna yesterday. More than 400 practitioners from across the OSCE’s 57 participating States and the Partners for Co-operation took part.
Although great progress has been achieved in combating human trafficking over the last two decades, traffickers have unfortunately learned to misuse technology to recruit, control and exploit victims more efficiently and at greater scale, said the conference’s opening speakers. “The misuse of technology has facilitated a scale of exploitation that seemed impossible only a decade ago,” said Valiant Richey, OSCE Acting Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings. “The time has come for a change: we must harness technology as an asset in prevention, protecting victims and prosecuting traffickers.”
The OSCE Alliance Against Trafficking in Persons is a unique global platform that lays the foundation for policy action on emerging issues and trends in trafficking, shedding light on challenges and opportunities across the OSCE region. The meeting highlighted contemporary approaches and promising practices to use technology to support victims and break the vicious cycle of human trafficking.
"Technology played a vital role in my exploitation”, said human trafficking survivor and anti sex-trafficking advocate Melanie Thompson. “It is important that survivors’ voices like mine are included in any discussion on policy on trafficking and sexual exploitation”.
Princess Eugenie of York echoed this message in her keynote address: “Human trafficking is far more deep-rooted than we could ever imagined. We stand for all the people that cannot stand here today.”
The United States Ambassador to Combat Human Trafficking at the country’s Department of State John Cotton Richmond said: “There is no magic tech solution to end human trafficking, and innovation should not be overstated. Yet technology, in the right context, can help move us forward.”
Further opening remarks were made, on behalf of the 2019 Slovak OSCE Chairmanship, by Rudolf Urbanovič, State Secretary of the Ministry of Interior of Slovakia and National Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, and Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), who highlighted the need for collaboration with civil society and the private sector to address human trafficking, which disproportionately harms women and girls.
Over the two days, the conference laid the foundation and policy recommendations for concrete action for participating States across the OSCE region. Technology firms, civil society and international organizations presented applications and tools including facial recognition software and artificial intelligence (AI) to fight trafficking and online exploitation.
"ICT-facilitated trafficking is a grave threat to security in the OSCE region and the human rights of its people. Our task now is to figure out how to overcome these challenges and harness technology as an asset in combating human trafficking," said OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger in his closing remarks. "Technology carries great potential for advancing OSCE commitments and implementing the OSCE’s Action Plan to end the trafficking of human beings."
For PDF attachments or links to sources of further information, please visit: http://www.osce.org/secretariat/416744
Communication and Media Relations Section