Ormond, 41, spoke in Bangkok in her capacity as United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Goodwill Ambassador for the Abolition of Slavery and Trafficking, a position she has held since December.
She follows in the socially aware footsteps of other stars such as Angelina Jolie, who has lobbied widely on behalf of the U.N. to publicize the plight of refugees, the AP reports.
Ormond opened a three-day regional conference on human trafficking, a crime which has a low profile but is particularly widespread in Southeast Asia. It is estimated the crime involves millions of people and billions of dollars a year worldwide.
"Trafficking and slavery are the ugly, dark side of globalization," said Ormond, who has starred in such movies as "Legends of the Fall" and "First Knight."
Speaking to social workers, government officials and other experts in the field, she said it was an "honor to work alongside people" who had chosen a calling that is "more vital to humanity than" acting.
Her chosen profession, she said, might even be termed "frivolous" in comparison.