After swift negotiations prior to ending its two-year term on the UN Security Council, the Government of Spain presented Resolution 2331 (2016) regarding human trafficking on December 20, 2016. The Resolution was unanimously adopted at the Open Debate Spain organized for this occasion. The Debate served as follow-up to the Presidential Statement (S/PRST/2015/25) that the Council adopted in December 2015 to specifically request the UN Secretary-General to report in 12 months on progress made by the UN in countering trafficking in persons. Watchlist made targeted recommendations for Council Members, with the aim of ensuring children in armed conflict, who comprise a great proportion of trafficked persons, were adequately represented in the Resolution.

Watchlist was particularly pleased that the Council, in the Resolution preamble, expressed grave concern over the high numbers of girls and boys among persons trafficked in armed conflict and their heightened vulnerability to violations and abuses, including those forcibly displaced by armed conflict and separated from their families or caregivers in the process.

To ensure accountability through targeted sanctions for those individuals and entities responsible for trafficking persons in armed conflict, the Council encouraged information exchange and other appropriate forms of cooperation between relevant UN entities, including the Special Representatives on Sexual Violence in Conflict and Children and Armed Conflict, within their respective mandates. Further to ensuring accountability, Watchlist was also pleased to see that the Special Representatives would be invited to brief relevant sanctions committees and provide information including, if applicable, the names of individuals involved in the trafficking in persons who may meet the committees’ designation criteria.

However, Watchlist was disappointed to see that the Council only called for embedding specialized expertise on sexual violence in conflict within the relevant sanctions regimes and not specialized child protection expertise, which Watchlist considers important for assessing and addressing threats of trafficking-related violations and abuses against children. The Council has requested the Secretary-General to follow up the implementation of Resolution 2331 (2016) and report within twelve months, and Watchlist will continue to follow this process.