Human trafficking is internationally defined as a crime. Every nation experiences the effects of human trafficking. As a result, the international community adopted laws in order to address the occurrence of modern slavery. According to the US State Department’s reports, approximately 30 million of people become victims of trafficking at any given time (U.S. Department of State 16). While developed countries serve as the destination place for trafficked people, the developing countries represent a source of trafficking in persons. At the same time, people also become victims of illegal trade within the countries of their origin. Countries are more likely to become a source of the trafficked victims if they experience natural disasters, ongoing conflicts, or an economic crisis. However, it is difficult to make precise estimations of the number of victims of trafficking due to increasing illegal immigration. Thus, in order to address the problem of human trafficking and eliminate the phenomenon in the world, the United Nations sets up policies and procedures and introduces laws and enforcement mechanisms.
The paper is organized in the following way. Firstly, it begins with an overview of the treaties and declarations implemented by the United Nations and a description of the concept of human trafficking. Secondly, the paper presents an analysis of the efforts of the international community in the sphere of addressing of the trafficking in persons. In addition, close attention will be paid to the documents and initiatives supported by the international community and international law that was not implemented by nations. Finally, the paper ends with findings and a conclusion.
Review of Treaties and Declarations on Human Trafficking
International legislation has become an effective mechanism for fighting trafficking in persons. The first attempts to eliminate illegal trafficking of people date back to the end of slavery. For instance, they include international laws such as the Slavery Convention of 1926 and the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery of 1956. The contemporary legislation in the sphere of human trafficking is also based on the laws that contain several provisions concerning trafficking in persons. These include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and the other documents (Jansson 58).
Nowadays, the international legislation adopted by the United Nations is among the most reputable and effective instruments that address the problem of human trafficking. Among the documents, there are the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and the UN Protocol against Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea, and Air. The conventions were adopted in order to reinforce the efforts of the international community in combating human trafficking. In order to support the legislative instruments, in 2007 the UN Office on Drug and Crime established the UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking.
The UN Protocol represents a unique form of agreement. In particular, it establishes law enforcement mechanisms that have more power than the other UN agreements. For instance, according to the provisions of the Protocol, nations that signed the document have to penalize human trafficking, safeguard victims of trafficking in persons and provide them with residence. Thus, the nations are obliged to establish legislation that ensures adherence to the key directions of the Protocol on the national level. In addition, the Protocol also differentiates between human trafficking and human smuggling. The document also foresees that a person is not necessarily forced into being trafficked. A person is considered to be a victim of human trafficking even in cases when he or she does not have any other choice than to comply (Gallagher 140). Thus, the Protocol broadened the concept of human trafficking.
Other UN documents, such as the Human Rights Standards for the Treatment of Trafficked Persons and the Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking, regulate treatment of the victims of trafficking in persons. The aim of the documents is to ensure that the victims of human trafficking are provided with the necessary protection. For instance, the documents prevent trafficked people from being defined as criminals.
Review of the Concept of “Human Trafficking”
Human trafficking remains one of the biggest concerns of the world community. According to the research of the International Labor Organization, more than 12 million people worldwide become victims of trafficking in persons every year. Initially, human trafficking was considered to be a form of human smuggling or illegal immigration (Laczko and Gramegna 179-194). Human trafficking was also defined as sexual exploitation of women and children. Later, the concept was broadened, and other forms of force usage were integrated into it. In addition, it was defined that victims of human trafficking do not necessarily have to be transported across the national borders (Laczko and Gramegna 179-194). Thus, nowadays the term is broadened and separated from human smuggling. According to the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, human trafficking represents
the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. (United Nations Human Rights)
In addition, human trafficking can include any form of exploitation, such as sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery or actions similar to slavery, servitude or selling of organs (Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act).
There are several reasons that contribute to the development of human trafficking worldwide. In particular, trafficking in persons remains a market driven criminal activity. For instance, the occurrence of the cases of human trafficking is determined by the existence of supply and demand tendencies. In addition, there are a number of factors that make people vulnerable to trafficking (King). Thus, one of the mechanisms of addressing the problem foresees the elimination of the established demand-supply factors that determine the existence of human trafficking.
United Nations Efforts to Implement Legal Mechanisms of Addressing Human Trafficking
Human trafficking remains one of the fasters growing illegal industries all over the world. In order to address the problem, the member states of the United Nations have declared the prohibition of all displays of the human trafficking. In order to achieve this, the international community set laws for the illegality of human trafficking. However, the global instruments do not foresee the adoption of systematic mechanisms for monitoring the compliance of the international legislation.
Despite the development of international mechanisms of addressing human trafficking, there is a necessity of compliance of the national efforts with the international law. The compliance provides UN committees with the authority to monitor the efforts of the nations. In addition, the United Nations receives an opportunity to regulate abuse of the particular treaties. However, one of the global legal instruments of the regulation of human trafficking, the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, is not ratified by all member-states of the United Nations (Halliday and Shaffer 404). The Protocol came into force in 2003. Until the end of 2014, the document was ratified by 166 states (Halliday and Shaffer 405). As a result, the UN efforts in combating human trafficking cannot be fully taken as there are nations that remain outside the international mechanism of eliminating trafficking in persons. In addition, it is difficult to impose criminal responsibility for human trafficking if nations do not apply the mechanisms of the UN legislation. The problem of compliance of legislation makes an impression that the international law remains an inadequate response to human trafficking. It is determined by the fact that the legislation has not completely eradicated the problem of trafficking in persons. Instead of promoting effective mechanisms, the United Nations keeps proposing treaties against human trafficking.
At the same time, the United Nations Organization keeps convincing countries to ratify the treaties to prevent human trafficking. In order to enhance international efforts, the United Nations adopted Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. The Plan underlined the importance of protecting and assisting the victims of human trafficking as well as strengthened cooperation between nations. The Plan foresees the inclusion of the necessity of human trafficking combating into the UN long-term strategies.
The member states of the United Nations recognize the necessity to implement stricter legislation in order to solve the problem of trafficking in human beings. In particular, the international community urges the UN General Assembly to create and integrate key agreements that combat modern-day slavery. Thus, according to the position of the President of the General Assembly Vuk Jeremik, “no effort must be spared to bring to an end the servitude of millions, while helping the survivors rebuild their lives.” Thus, apart from detecting human traffickers, there is a necessity to understand the needs of the victims of human trafficking. As every country in the world has experienced involvement in human trafficking as a place of origin, transit, and destination of victims, the problem has become global and thus requires the international solution (Carrington and Hearn 6). At the same time, the UN Resolution 67/190 has demonstrated that despite the efforts taken by the international community, human trafficking remains one of the world’s biggest challenges.
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Thus, the United Nations determined human trafficking as a crime that cannot be addressed successfully exceptionally on the national level. In order to set policies and procedures against human trafficking, the United Nations adopted a number of documents, including the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. The document supplements the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. According to the provisions of the Protocol, the international community has to take measures in order to stop illegal activities. As a result, the United Nations succeeded in developing effective mechanism to prevent trafficking in persons. The principal responses include detecting traffickers, finding and helping the victims, and preventing the occurrence of trafficking in persons. At the same time, there are a number of problems. For example, not every country takes part in the UN efforts to eliminate human trafficking. Until the end of 2014, the Trafficking Protocol was ratified by 166 states.
The United Nations has already adopted a number of laws and developed mechanisms of addressing the problem of human trafficking. In addition, the Organization continues enhancing international efforts on combating human trafficking. In order to reaffirm the commitments, the UN adopted Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. Thus, the document underlined the importance of integration and cooperation in fighting human trafficking. In addition, the Global Plan broadened the instruments of addressing trafficking in persons. Apart from detecting traffickers, increased attention has to be paid to the victims of the illegal business.