Human trafficking alongside migrant smuggling are global problems. One or the other affects many countries in this world, either as a start of the crime, as a waypoint or as the destination. Smuggling and human trafficking are considered organized crime and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) and other organizations are working on solutions on the matter. Migrants flee from their home country in a search for a better life. They flee from: natural disasters, violence, poverty, civil war and persecution. These people go through many hardships on their ways, they are at the mercy of their smugglers and can be left behind any day. Many of the migrants have paid from 2,000 - 10,000 US$ (or more) to migrate into another country. The journey can take months and any means of transportation are used. So it could be that migrants from Africa to Europe travel through Asia by foot, car, train or air just to take advantage of a country’s border policy.
During the process of human trafficking the victims are treated as a product and lose all their dignity. They are forcefully taken from their families for forced labor, prostitution, organ removal or as slaves. They travel in dark containers for weeks alongside with dozens of other migrants and victims. Hundreds of thousands of people are trafficked every year from all corners of the world to work for their criminal bosses. Human trafficking is a main part of the global criminal organizations and is earning 32 Billion US Dollars each year. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that in 2005 over 2.5 million people were attached by this problem. The situation of the victims is profitable for their smugglers. They make profit by getting as many victims as possible, to exploit them and leave them no pride or dignity. There is one general distinction between human trafficking and migrant smuggling, during the process of human trafficking victims are mostly held captive against their will and move from one destination to another. During migrant smuggling the migrant and the criminal smuggler have a deal and both parties know their agreement.
When people turn to the criminal world, they are helpless. They have tried every means to migrate into another country without making use of illegal actions. Now, after being hold up by the legal actions they often turn and face the criminal contrabandists who promise a better life in another country. Most of the people take the chance they are offered and pay the smugglers large amounts of money they have earned and saved or borrowed over the last years. The criminals only see the helpless people as goods and therefore treat them without any respect. There are many different ways to get over the border of a country. Most of the criminals offer small things such as the faking of passports and other documents, while others arrange the full migration out of their home country into their designated destination.
Central America – USA
The illegal migration from Central America into the US is one of the most popular and talked about migration problems in the western world. As the US border controls became stricter, the migration into the US became a highly profitable business for criminal networks and smugglers. During the Bush Era in the early 2000’s the border restrictions of the US towards Mexico became even stricter and therefore now almost all migrants that are wishing to work and live in the US illegally, depend on a smuggler who gets them over the border safely. The number of migrants immigrating into the US from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico, the so-called Northern Triangle, is significantly higher than the number of migrants from other South American countries. Although the migrants from the Northern Triangle make up a big part of the immigrants, they are not the only ones who are wishing to live in the US. Migrants from South Asia and Africa are also smuggled through Central America. These migrants travel by land routes through Africa and Asia to South Africa; from there they travel by air to Brazil or Colombia. For those who can afford it or the ones that have a more responsible smuggler they travel further by air to Mexico. The rest is traveling by land and sea towards Panama and Costa Rica. From there on their itinerary looks almost identical as the one form the Northern Triangle migrants.
Crossing the border to Mexico is the first big hurdle on the journey of the migrants. Smugglers offer various deals to get the people over the border. One can buy an “all-inclusive” package, where one stays with the same smuggler the whole time. Or the cheaper and more common way is to pay the individual smugglers along the way. The prices to be smuggled into the US vary from 60,000 US$ from China to 4,250 US$ from Central America. Mexican authorities estimated that there are about 300-350 unofficial crossing points on the national border. After the migrants arrive in Mexico the ones choosing to travel without a smuggler take the train through Mexico, while the smuggled ones have to walk along train tracks and then travel by train in cargo wagons with up to 500 other migrants.
After successfully arriving in the US the hardships of the migrants do not end. Now they are willing to work for whom ever acquires their work. These migrants are a vital part of the US labor force, since they technically have no rights and therefore most likely will not complain about labor conditions. Employers use these migrants and let them work over-time and under the minimum wage mark, if there is protest, a call at the immigration office is offered. The workers, who mostly are young men in search for a better future, are exploited to the will of their employers, they may not have bathroom breaks, and safe working conditions, food and drinks and they are not permitted to sleep. 87% of all working illegal migrants are of Mexican descent. 75% of the rest are people out of the other Northern Triangle countries. These numbers show the dominance of the Northern Triangle in this issue.
For Europeans the migration problem from Africa to Europe is as well-known as the Central America to the US migration for the Americans. Irregular migration into Europe started in the 1990’s, when Spain and Italy enforced stricter border regulations. Over the last years the illegal migration to Europe declined, because of the economic down turn in the European economy, but events such as the war in Syria or Libya can affect these numbers drastically. If there is a civil war or other political event the demand for smuggling increases. Most of the illegal immigrants come from West Africa and they try to reach Europe by the overland route or the route over the Mediterranean. The five main routes are: By sea to the Canary Islands (Spain), by sea to the Spanish mainland, across the street of Gibraltar, by land and sea to Greece, by land and sea to Lampedusa (Italy) or Malta. All these routes carry different difficulties and vary in prices. Depending on where the people live they take one of these routes. As in the Central America the migrants can either buy “all-inclusive” packages, which are the safest but also the most expensive possibility. The people coming out of less fortunate conditions can either pay the different smugglers on their way to Europe or they can work at the waypoint between departure and destination point. Both ways are dangerous but one is more than the other. The people living in the coastal regions of West Africa most likely either take the route over the Canary Islands or the route through North Africa and then by sea over the street of Gibraltar. The rest who is not living near the coast is also taking the way by land and then by sea to Spain or the route through the Saharan dessert and from there to Lampedusa and Italy. Some migrants may arrive Europe overland, which means that they travel through Africa to Egypt then to Turkey and from there to Greece. Changes in the policy of the Canary Islands and Italy pushed this flow of routes further east.
Fishermen who wanted to increase their income picked up the migrants travelling via the Canary Islands in the early years. Then in 2006, the smuggling business evolved and smugglers bought small boats to get the migrants from the Senegalese coast to the Canaries. If the migrants travel through North Africa the journey is more organized, because more migrants take this route. In 2011, 17,000 illegal migrants were detected in Spain, Italy, Greece and Malta. In the previous years the number of detections was higher. In 2011 the level of migration got higher with the war in Libya and the uprisings in Tunisia. On Lampedusa 60,000 migrants were recorded, but only a small part came from West Africa.
Dangers on the Road
People are exposed to many dangers on the road of travelling towards their destination. Not only the fear of getting caught, but also the risks of travelling by sea, air and land are always present for the migrants. In 2011 at least 1,500 migrants died in their attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. If they managed to get to Europe and get caught there they end up being detained for longer periods of time or they are treated like criminals.
For many people the search for a better life is the fundamental cause for migrating into another country. For others it’s political instability they are fleeing from. Some just cease an opportunity offered and they take it without thinking about possible consequences. In most cases the migrants are young and willing to work for their families at home. Some even have family members at their destination point and therefore travel and migrate into the country. Recent studies showed that most of the people migrating from West Africa can read and have had some sort of education. Others travel with no education and are illiterate and can only work on farms and in factories.
Human trafficking is a new form of slavery, where the victims are abducted illegally, against their will and as victims of their criminal bosses. The purpose of human trafficking is the exploitation of the victims, for sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery and organ removal. Most of the victims do not know that they are trafficked because they think they are migrating into another country. On the way to the country they get abducted and then are used for the purpose of human trafficking. In Eastern Europe, the collapse of the Soviet Union led to new opportunities in the economy and the criminal networks ceased their opportunity and made use of the collapse. Today mostly woman from Eastern Europe are abducted for the purpose of sexual exploitation into all parts of the world.
Preventing migrant smuggling to reduce human trafficking is a topic with very controversial solutions. On the one hand, a few people support the basic idea of closing the borders of their country and having very strict entry regulations. On the other hand, people pressure their governments to open the borders and to let the poor migrants inside their country, but this is only the basic idea. Preventing leads further than only closing borders and restricting people to enter the country. One has to get to the root of the problem, the countries where the migrants start their journeys. Homelessness, poverty and diseases are causes for migrant smuggling. If the governments work together they can find and create solutions to the problem. Raising awareness like the UNDOC is doing is crucial to both sides, to the migrants and the citizens of the states where the migrants immigrate. If they can be protected and not be treated like criminals solutions are possible to prevent migrant smuggling to reduce human trafficking.
“We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race." Koffie Annan. The very premise of the UN was to create a unified globe in which different cultures thrive together. Over the last century, as more and more countries joined the UN, the UN became a center for dialogue between hundreds of cultures and nations. Thus it is in the absolute interest of the UN to strive in creating a global environment in which every opinion, society, custom and religion can be heard and respected.
Religion is arguably as old as man himself and from the ancient Mesopotamians till the British Empire Religion has been an incomparable element of all societies. It has however also been the cause for some of humanities greatest wars and thus must be tackled with care. As the world grows in diversity and contrasts, respect is always due to even the smallest of societies, for even a religious minority has every right to be heard. The UN has the responsibility to enforce the right of every man and woman to be heard and respected. In this time where religion, especially in conflict regions such as the middle east, has become equally revolutionary as dangerous, the UN must review not only the role of religion in our modern society but also that of minorities.
Freedom of Religion
The freedom to fully express one religion is stated in many nations’ constitution. It is also respected in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights second Article “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”.
The new oxford American dictionary describes the meaning of diversity as “showing or having great variety”. But those simple five words cannot contain what incomparable role diversity plays in our world. Countries that contain a diverse array of cultures, religions and traditions are open and have the potential to play big roles in our globalized world. As international connections and relationships thrive so will nations that allow all cultures to live together peacefully. Thus Diversity is what distinguishes modern nations from those that do not wish to part take in creating a peaceful world. Diversity is the key word of the 21st century and should always be considered by the delegates when debating.
A minority can be defined as a small collective of people that are not necessarily represented in the overall “picture” of a country or demographic. The word minorities is also often used to describe a group that often experiences discrimination from the majority of people due to their culture, traditions, or religion.
Immigrants is a term used to describe people who have left their home state to start a new life in a different country. Immigrants can also be called displaced people and the phrase is either used to describe people who have fled their motherland due to it being inhabitable or dangerous (i.e. war) or those who have simply moved to a new nation to start a new life. Most religious minorities are represented by citizens of a different country who wish to carry on practicing their believe in their new home.
Blasphemy is used to describe acts of sacrilegious nature. This entails any acts against a particular religion, their god or religious items. Countries such as Pakistan have blasphemy laws that allow anyone who is seen to act against the state religion to be prosecuted.
The concept of human dignity is not explicitly defined by the United Nations. However, for the purposes of this research report, it can be defined as “an individual or group’s sense of self respect and self worth. When one regards international law human dignity is an inalienable right since Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”
Religious discrimination is defined as any kind of prejudice or stigma attached to a particular group due to their faith. This stigma can often lead to violent acts or attacks. Examples of religious discrimination would be hate speeches held in order to animate radical action against a religious group or vandalism of places of warship.
With over 21 major religions across the world and undoubtedly a plethora more, the world is filled with people expressing all kinds of beliefs. By definition minorities are not greatly represented and often consist of a small collective of individuals. What these minorities however have to offer is diversity and culture diversification. The key to creating a future in which minorities can live with the majority lies in the hands of both parties. Integrating minorities into a culture requires effort from both sides. As we can see from multiple examples across the world, this important topic needs to be discussed and solutions need to be found.
There is no question that religious minorities have the exact same rights as any other group of individuals. The way however, that governments choose to protect these rights varies from country to country. Over the last decades there has been an impulsive discussion in France on Islamic headscarves (typically worn by Muslim women). In France, Islam is practiced by about 5 to 10% of the population. The controversy started with a debate on whether hijabs should be worn in French public schools. This discussion later escalated to whether or not headscarves should be allowed at all in public. France struggled with this debate because while they believed in the freedom of religion (which is protected in their constitution) they also practiced the separation of church and state. Should religious freedom be compromised for a secular state or is a secular and neutral state more important. France is just one country struggling to find a compromise between secularism and religious freedom. Especially countries that have such a high immigration rate as France struggle to find this balance. The delegates should most certainly consider France’s endeavor during debate.
Located in the Middle East, about 95-98% of Pakistan’s 187,343,000 citizens practice Islam. Other religions such as Christianity are only practiced by a very small group of individuals. Christianity is only practiced by about 1.6 % of the over all population, most of which are immigrants or converts. While this small number doesn’t necessarily mean that Christians are unable or not allowed to practice their religion, the Pakistani people and their government don’t approach Christianity in an open way. Already in Pakistan’s constitution Christians are discriminated against. Despite being the second largest religious minority in the country (after Hinduism) it is by law, illegal for Christians to become president or prime minister. Not only does the constitution degree that the prime minister must be a Muslim, Pakistani “blasphemy laws” have led to the prosecution of several hundred Christian, a dozen of which were sentenced to death. The most prominent and controversial case in recent memory is that of Rimsha Masih. The 11-year-old girl was accused of burning a copy of the Koran, which is punishable by death. It is highly importantly to note that the young girl was Christian and possessed a mental disability. An Islamic clerk who was however later prosecuted for framing the young girl accused her of burning the Koran. While Rimsha Masih was released on bail, her story paints a clear picture of how serious the discrimination against religious minorities is in the Pakistan.
Christian Copts have ancient Egyptian historical routes and share many of the same social and cultural backgrounds as Muslims. This might lead one to believe that Egypt accepts this Christian minority. A process of integration did begin in the middle of the 19th century but was throttled periodical by Muslim extremist. This process of integration and violent retaliation continued for a good part of the 20th century. Under the two Egyptian regimes segregation and violence was considered the norm. Over the last years Egyptian security forces have managed to make a significant dent in the violence that Copts experience. Yet discrimination is still ramped. Copts have continued to suffer from discrimination in certain state institutions, in the public sector, in education, and in the economic field.
Pakistan and Egypt may be examples of Middle Eastern states categorically disallowing any sort of integration of minorities but other nations in the same region have made great efforts to help minorities integrate themselves into society. Jordan is a prime example of a Middle Eastern state that has managed to achieve a peaceful integration of minorities. This applies both to the relatively small number of Christian and non-Arab Caucasians. Jordan has also been very open to immigrants as well as asylum seekers from neighboring less tolerant states. It is expected that Jordan will continue on the peaceful path as long as its monarchy maintains its strong control.
The population of the U.A.E consists to over 50% of immigrants, especially from western states and India. What sets the U.A.E so apart from other Islamic countries (i.e. Saudi Arabia) is that it allows all religions to express themselves. Apart from a strict law that disallows missionaries from any religion, religious expression is highly tolerated. Places of warship from any religion can be built and Christmas or other non-Islamic holidays are authorized. This free expression of all religions, works with the concept that all can practice their religions as long as they don’t infringe on others right to express their believes. This respectful relationship is unique in many countries and is an approach worth considering in other religious states.
It is written in the UN charter that the UN stands to create dialogue between countries of different cultures and thus to prosper international relations. The most important body of the UN that strives to create a culturally and religiously diverse world is the UNESCO. The UNESCO stands for the United Nations Educations Scientific and Cultural Organizations. The UNESCO was founded in the year 1945 (the founding year of the UN) to help the UN prosper advances in education, sciences and culture. What the UNESCO is probably however most famous for is their program named “World Heritage”. The title world heritage is given to cities, buildings, forests, and mountains, etc. that are of cultural or physical significance. What a lot of people don’t know about the UNESCO is that they don’t only preserve physical symbols of unique cultures but also those very cultures themselves. When the UNESCO has chosen a culture or religion it wishes to preserve it is given the status of a world heritage. This endeavor by the UN shows its dedication to preserve endangered cultures and traditions. The UNESCO protects over 962 natural and cultural landmarks and helps us to be able to continue to enjoy unique traditions and sites.
A highly contributing factor as to why certain groups are excluded by society is a stigma felt towards said group. The proliferation of stereotypes and slurs needs to stop before the general public can accept a minority. This also however means that a country must take time to lead objective debates on the topic of racism and exclusion. Constructive debates and education are key factors in eliminating stigma.
If one reexamines the Copts in Egypt it is evident that hate does not arise over night. The battle between Christianity and Islam that has been going on for centuries, may be a sign that discrimination doesn’t arise out of the blue, neither will it dissipate over night. When debating the topic of integration of minorities, delegates should always keep in mind that short-term solutions may often lead to more disputes and problems. Long term sustainable solution need to be found.
Violence and Security
As stated previously discrimination will not dissipate over night. Thus violence that these minorities face will also not simply disappears. The government has the responsibility to protect its citizens, no matter what minority they may belong to. Delegates do need to bear in mind that these minorities need to be kept safe. They however also need to consider that the rights and liberties of minorities are not infringed upon. Delegates should consider the debate and dispute in France.
There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that a global society in which all cultures are respected is the society the UN wishes to achieve. The measures that need to be taking to achieve this goal however need to be given more attention by the UN. This committee has the unique chance to make a statement against racism and to construct long term and concrete measures that have the potential to create a more diverse future. A world in which every opinion is heard and respected is in the best interest of the UN and the global community. "Peace cannot exist without justice, justice cannot exist without fairness, fairness cannot exist without development, development cannot exist without democracy, and democracy cannot exist without respect for the identity and worth of cultures and peoples." -Rigoberta Menchú Tum (Guatemalan Indigenous Rights Activist, 1990 UNESCO Prize for Peace Education, 1992 Nobel Peace Prize Winner)