Alejandra Scelles Torres - Spain

We thought we had abolished slavery. But there are more slaves today than at any other time in history. More than 45 million people are now living under some modern form of slavery, and it seems that institutions, governments and civil society are not taking the necessary steps to end this phenomenon.

Slavery today can mean sexual exploitation, labor, forced begging, forced marriages. Nations, under the mandate of supranational organizations, such as the United Nations, have the duty and responsibility to eradicate slavery in their countries, so that their citizens are not exploited, and so that no money can be made at the expense of people’s lives. They also have a duty to educate their societies so that they do not tolerate this attack on human rights and become a proactive part of its eradication.

What I propose is a plan of integral monitoring, adapted for each nation, with programs for the prevention and eradication of modern slavery. We have sufficiently important and developed agencies and networks in the world to work with and include human trafficking in our political agendas.

Legal examples, police action, and action protocols have to be created so that different countries have guidelines on how to act and how to eradicate slavery in each of their territories. We must also train the authorities and the new generations to speak openly against modern slavery.

Slavery is based on a flagrant economic profit. But who is behind slavery? Criminal organizations that develop at a frenetic pace, as more and more men, women and girls fall victims of these attacks on human rights. And surely we are realizing now that we have arrived too late to solve this problem because it is too serious, but there are things that can be done. One can believe in the virtuous effect of having one person start the chain, what we call the domino effect. When one leads and begins, it creates the example for the next person to follow, which affects other nations to continue doing the same. This is with the aim of obtaining legal examples and laws in different countries to combat modern slavery; so that the people of all nations know what needs to be done to eradicate it, so they can be a proactive part of the process.

Imagine if we were to create agencies in each of these countries, telling them what to do, how they should be held accountable, what policy measures to take. We would tell them part of the work that they seem to have no interest in doing or not having the means, or simply not having the political will needed. People of all nations have to know what trafficking is, they have to understand that it is a major problem, but also that they can also be part of the solution. The population has to get involved, and the associations have to work hand in hand with the government; and if we get these associations and civil society involved in a political mandate from a supranational organization like the United Nations, governments will not be able to say, “It is our task, our national sovereignty, to deal with the human rights of our citizens”. Because we, as organizations, know that in most cases they do not take sufficient measures to guarantee human rights in many countries.

I do not want any boy or girl in the world not to know what the word trafficking means. It does not seem normal for us to reach adulthood without understanding that it is one of the great scourges of the human being. That is why I propose an international project in which agencies are created, in which we dictate to nations how they have to act, and in which we tell them: “These are the means at your disposal, and these are the actions that you must take”.

There is a scarcity of international studies and protocols about this matter. Few things have been done since the Palermo Protocol, and many countries have not even adopted it. What do studies, budgets, lines of action matter if they just remain on paper? We must urge countries to comply with these mandates. We have to ask them to give us annual reports on the progress that has been made, and those who have not made any progress have to be penalized, just as those who have done something have to be recognized in front of the international community.

With this project, we are directly tackling the Sustainable Development Goals of poverty, gender inequality and quality of education, because we want a different future for our girls: reduction of inequality, justice, and also the reinforcement of institutions, because we are giving them the power to change things. We are also joining forces to achieve the goals, because these goals would be determined internationally, but then implemented nationally.

We have to create online material so that people are able to access this type of information, but also for difficult allies like the media or the big corporations not to tolerate labor exploitation or sexual exploitation, and publicly pronounce themselves against it, and urge their governments and their States to take immediate political action to prevent this from happening. 

Obviously ignorance will always be our greatest obstacle, but I believe in the power of organizations, such as the United Nations, to get the message out and across to everyone that this cannot happen. I believe that we, the young people, have a great deal of responsibility in putting an end to modern slavery, and that it is a situation that cannot be tolerated anymore.


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