High Level Political Forum
It has been 10 months since 193 member states made a collective commitment to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Now the real test is to see what our nations will do to meet these commitments, and how they work in partnership with outside groups like faith-based institutions. Some member states continue to view our civil society groups as adversaries, trying to suppress rather than empower them.
From 11-20 July the High Level Political Forum met to review the first group of countries (picture). UNANIMA volunteer Alex Satterfield attended the meeting and other events. “The most eye-opening side event for me was an event entitled, Eliminating the Trafficking of Children and Youth, which discussed the religious perspective of trafficking and the recent efforts of the Pope to combat trafficking, especially in youth. Trafficking is recognized in three different Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but the event focused on Goal 16, Target 2, which is to eliminate trafficking and abuse against children by 2030—especially child victims of armed conflict, one of the best examples of who the SDGs are designed to protect. Of trafficking victims, 1/3 are children and of those, 2/3 are girls. The biggest factor in eliminating the trafficking of children is to gather baseline data on the purposes for which children are trafficked. Civil society must hold the UN accountable for leading the fight against trafficking; this message was affirmed by Sheila Simpkins, a trafficking victim who told her story. Her abuse started at age 6; now she is 47 and working on behalf of past, present, and future victims with an organization called End Slavery Tennessee. Their focus is on the laws surrounding trafficking; specifically, ensuring that traffickers are punished as rapists, not just traffickers. The power of her story came from hearing her tell it, but the message resonates with everyone. Sheila and the panel confirmed that fighting the demand is where our efforts must be focused in order to defeat the monster that is trafficking of children and youth.”