5 March 2009

Blue HeartUNODC Launches Blue Heart Campaign
Against Human Trafficking

VIENNA, 5 March (UN Information Service) - Today, at the Women's World Awards in Vienna, Austria, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Antonio Maria Costa, launched the Blue Heart Campaign against human trafficking.

"There is a lot of ignorance about modern slavery. There is also a lot of good will to fight it," said Mr. Costa. "The blue heart will raise awareness about a crime that shames us all. It shows solidarity with the victims," he said.

The Blue Heart represents the sadness of trafficking victims, the cold-heartedness of the perpetrators and the commitment of the United Nations to fight this crime.

To take advantage of social networking, the campaign is encouraging members of the public to change their Facebook profile picture to a blue heart, upload the Blue Heart to their web page, spread the word through Twitter and watch video about human trafficking on YouTube.

Mr. Costa called on participants of the Women's World Awards, held in Vienna on 5 March, to join the campaign "to free our sisters and brothers from exploitation". At the Women's World Congress, which took place in Vienna on 4 March, he described human trafficking as "the worst kind of violence against women, made even more repulsive by the fact that people make money from it".

While poverty makes people vulnerable to human trafficking, gender discrimination and sexism are also to blame. "Whether it's burkas or bikinis, the humiliation of women as property or sex objects is an affront to human dignity. It creates a market for women and girls who are traded like commodities," said the head of UNODC. Recalling the United Nations Secretary-General's campaign "UNite to end violence against women," and looking ahead to International Women's Day on 8 March, Mr. Costa called on people all over the world to join the Blue Heart Campaign against human trafficking "in order to end enslavement, and achieve women's equality".

UNODC's Global Report on Trafficking in Persons ( www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/global-report-on-trafficking-in-persons.html) offers the first global assessment of the scope of human trafficking and what is being done to fight it.

Materials and more information on the Blue Heart campaign can be found at www.unodc.org/blueheart

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For further information, please contact:

Walter Kemp
Spokesman and Speechwriter, UNODC
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-5629
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-5629
Email: walter.kemp@unodc.org