The United Nations Association of New York (UNA-NY) held its annual United Nations Day Humanitarian of the Year Award Gala Dinner at the JW Marriott in New York City earlier this month. The event gathered attendees together to raise awareness around human trafficking, recognized those who champion progress in this important category and celebrated their contributions to-date. Among those honored included Delta Air Lines, Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino, and New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof. In addition, the organization announced a critical partnership with Freedom United, the world’s largest anti-slavery community, to act upon the mission and encourage more governments to ratify a comprehensive international standard on forced labor.
The UNA-NY’s annual gala aims to acknowledge corporations and individuals for their contribution to, and in support of, the principles and efforts of the United Nations. With this year’s theme taking specific focus around human trafficking, Allison Ausband, Senior Vice President of Inflight Services, accepted the Humanitarian of the Year Award on behalf of Delta Air Lines. The airline was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year Award for its accomplishments to fight the global issue. As one of the world’s largest airlines, Delta has contributed millions of dollars to fund organizations working to combat this epidemic, provided over 100 flights to victims, offered apprenticeships for survivors at its corporate headquarters, and trained 66,000 employees on how to identify and report human trafficking at home, onboard, or even during a flight.
Actress and United Nations Goodwill ambassador Mira Sorvino was also honored, praised for her passion for social justice and her dedication to erase the issue of human trafficking worldwide. Having supported the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime anti-trafficking initiatives since 2007, Sorvino was appointed to her current position in 2009 as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Goodwill Ambassador in the Global Fight Against Human Trafficking. Sorvino has made enormous strides in the fight against human trafficking through a plethora of powerful actions that have been felt around the world, including testifying before the US Senate on human trafficking, helping engender legislative change and collaborating with the CNN Freedom project. Sorvino’s undying efforts towards advocacy for human rights coupled with the contribution she has made to the UN has helped the organization push for progress around the world.
“The fight against human trafficking can only be won if people are aware of the scope and scale of the problem” says Abid Qureshi, President of UNA-NY. “The UNA-NY is honored to present both Academy Award winning actress and United Nations Goodwill ambassador Mira Sorvino and Delta Air Lines with the Humanitarian of the Year Awards,” concludes Qureshi.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof was also celebrated for his immense contribution to the anti-human trafficking movement during the Gala, receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award. As one of the New York Times’ most recognizable and widely-followed columnists, Kristof has leveraged his unique position in culture to bring attention to some of the world’s most intractable problems when it comes to human trafficking. In a recent article, Kristof reminded the world’s leaders, as they prepared to descend on New York for last week’s annual gathering at the UN General Assembly, that tens of millions are effectively locked into modern forms of slavery. And that somewhere between 10,000 and 100,000 children are sold for sex in the United States every year. He brings attention not only to the problem, but to solutions that work, such as grassroots community initiatives to identify those at risk of human trafficking.
The UNA-NY has a simple mission: to educate the public on the issues central to the endeavors of the UN, to advocate on the UN’s behalf, and to engage the private sector on critical issues. In their efforts to act upon their mission and encourage international communities to eradicate human trafficking once and for all, the organization is both privileged and thrilled to recognize the most-deserving recipients of their annual Humanitarian of the Year Awards and Lifetime Achievement Award.