09 April 2019, GENEVA – Illegal arms exports and human trafficking adversely affect the enjoyment of human rights across the world including in the Arab region, the Geneva Centre’s Executive Director Ambassador Idriss Jazairy said at a panel debate held at the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG).
The conference entitled “Impacts of Illegal Economic Activities in Conflict Areas on Human Rights” was jointly organized on 9 April by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Azerbaijan to UN in Geneva and by the UN University for Peace.
In a recent report by the UN Secretary General expressing concern about the “global protection crisis” which prevails currently, Ambassador Jazairy stated that the Arab region is a telling testimony to this situation.
“Armed conflict and internal upheavals in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen have resulted in the displacement of millions of people. Insecurity has thrown Arab countries into endemic poverty and unprecedented social decline,” the Geneva Centre’s Executive Director said.
With regard to illegal or undercover arms exports to countries experiencing armed conflict in the MENA region, Ambassador Jazairy stated that this exacerbate social instability and violence. “When arms end up in the wrong hands” – he noted - “they can have a destabilising effect on nations. Irregular and black-market arms trade have weaponised extremism in the Middle East.”
Referring to statistics from UNODA, Ambassador Jazairy remarked that the countries that are furthest from achieving the SDG targets are in, or emerging from, armed conflict and violence. In this regard, he appealed to governments and arms traders to commit to respecting and to fulfilling the provisions set forth in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
“Peace and stability and not weapons are over time the best investments in human rights,” the Geneva Centre’s Executive Director said.
In relation to the adverse human rights impact of human trafficking, Ambassador Jazairy highlighted that illegitimate or illegal economic activities fuel the growth of human trafficking networks and the unprecedented rise of people on the move.
"Human trafficking originates where and when denials of human rights are prevalent. It is the modern form of slavery,” he said.
In relation to the MENA region, Ambassador Jazairy underlined that the “fragile situation mainstreamed by the arms trade has allowed human trafficking networks to exploit vulnerable and economically marginalized people.” In the case of Libya, more than 300,000 migrants and refugees have been exploited by smuggling networks and the value of human smuggling has reached USD 346 million per annum, it was remarked by the Geneva Centre’s Executive Director.
In this connection, he said that restrictive and over-securitized migratory policies further aggravates the vulnerability of people on the move. He deplored the recent decision by the EU to stop maritime deployments for Operation Sophia as it arrived “at a time when migration flows had been brought down to a trickle as compared to 2015.“
“The recent building of embattlements at Europe’s borders runs counter to basic human rights which ‘Fortress Europe’ advocates with a straight face at the HRC. High-level European officials accusing NGOs of complicity with human traffickers when saving lives of people drowning, express this ultimate degree of callousness,” Ambassador Jazairy said.
In conclusion, the Geneva Centre’s Executive Director urged the world society to restore peace and stability and a climate conducive to the development of, and the respect for, human rights.