World Day Against Trafficking in Persons 2019

World Day against human trafficking

The world day against trafficking in persons was held on the 30th July 2019. The day is designated by the United Nations as a moment to reaffirm commitments to tackle human trafficking, support victims, and protect those at risk globally. Human trafficking is an exploitative crime that targets men, women, and children for a variety of purposes, including forced labour, sexual exploitation and organ removal. In 2000 the United Nations opened for signature and ratification the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, commonly known as the Palermo Protocol. The protocol delivered an internationally accepted definition of human trafficking as:


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. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.


Since 2000 the United Nations has collected data on over 200,000 victims of human trafficking identified across the globe. In addition to this the International Labour Organisation published figures stating that in 2016 there were at least 40,000,000 victims of modern slavery worldwide. Despite the introduction of many legislative instruments since 2000 around the world to tackle the issues of human trafficking and modern slavery, such as the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015, the French Duty of Vigilance laws, and Australia’s New Modern Slavery Act 2018, the issues of human trafficking and modern slavery continue to pose a vast global challenge.

It is increasingly recognised that tackling human trafficking and modern slavery, crimes that are often of a hidden nature, requires multi-agency collaboration and professional experts from across all sectors. The Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Expert Directory was established in the UK to bring together professionals and specialists who work in the counter-trafficking and anti-slavery sectors from around the world. Victims of human trafficking can be transported within their own country or across borders many thousands of miles from home. The directory addressed a critical need for a centralised global database of experts and professionals to better enable those working in the field to approach an incredibly complex, often international, problem. The HTMSE directory lists a large cross section of professionals and organisations, all of whom have different specialisms and varying qualifications, including  NGOs, charities, businesses, lawyers and law firms, medical practitioners and researchers. The directory is designed as a free resource for all, whether signing up to the directory as an expert or searching the directory in search of an expert.

In 2015 the United Nations presented the Sustainable Development Agenda, which included a target of ending human trafficking and modern slavery by 2030, which according to a recent study is far from being met. However, whilst this year’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons focused on calling governments around to world to action it also promotes action by all.

If you are a you are a professional, NGO, charity, business, lawyer, medical practitioner, or other expert or specialist organisation and wish to sign up to the Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Expert Directory and professional network please follow the link here.



World Day against Trafficking in Persons 2018: Join the HTMSE Directory in the Fight Against Human Trafficking

World Day against Trafficking in Persons 2018

The United Nations has allocated the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, occurring for the 5th year on July 30th, in order to raise awareness for the heinous crime that plagues every country globally, whether a place of origin, transit or final destination.

Behind drug trafficking, human trafficking is one of the most profitable criminal networks where millions of vulnerable people are forced, manipulated or coerced into moving to a foreign destination, whereby they will endure exploitation at some point along their path. This may take the form of hard labour, sexual exploitation, forced begging, forced criminality, organ removal or ever developing forms of exploitation, for example skin removal, online pornography, and exploitation in the sports industry.

The International Labour Organisation reports that 21 million people are subject to forced labour globally, of which a large proportion have been trafficked. Women and girls make up around 70%, and children or minors make up 30% of all trafficking victims. Hence, the focus for World Day against Trafficking in Persons 2018 is on ‘responding to the trafficking of children and young people’ as announced by the UNODC. The aim is on prevention, education, support and justice for the child victims of trafficking.

In order for this movement to be most effective, professionals within the fields of human trafficking and modern slavery need to work together, pool resources, expertise and specialism. The HTMSE directory is a global platform that lists professionals in the fields of law, trafficking and country experts, medical experts, counsellors and therapists, specialist organisations and researchers who are working towards the same goal of eradicating exploitation, trafficking and slavery. On this World Day against Trafficking in Persons 2018, we welcome you to join our initiative or use the resource in your fight against human trafficking alongside our professional network, to achieve support and justice for victims of trafficking.

For further information on World Day against Trafficking in Persons 2018, see here.

Migrant Crisis Reinforced by Large Death Toll Crossing the Mediterranean

Photo Credit: UNHCR/Alfredo D’Amato. An overloaded boat of refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe, as seen from the deck of an Italian Coastguard ship, in the Mediterranean Sea.
Photo Credit: UNHCR/Alfredo D’Amato. An overloaded boat of refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe, as seen from the deck of an Italian Coastguard ship, in the Mediterranean Sea.

The crossing between North Africa and Southern Europe has proved to be the most dangerous refugee passage. Concern has been raised by international agencies including the IOM and UNHCR by two fatal sunken boats over three days at the beginning of July 2018.

On the first boat around 103 people drowned off the coast of Libya, where the coast guard had limited capacity to rescue only 16 men. The mode of transport in which they were crossing was an “unseaworthy and overcrowded” rubber boat marking an example of the dangerous methods that migrant smugglers are using. Shortly following, a second boat capsized with 100 people still missing, 41 saved. This toll contributes to the statistics of over 1000 drowning on the Mediterranean crossing of this year alone.

The Libyan Coast Guard is continually intercepting boats with smuggled migrants who are attempting to cross the Mediterranean and turning them back to be held in detention centres. Although numbers arriving at EU shores are 5 times lower than it’s peak in 2016, over 10,000 people have been returned to shore so far this year, representing another significant increase in numbers. There is also concern over the human rights conditions in the detention centres, where women and children put at high risk of violation and exploitation.

On analysis, although this points to urgent need for action by the EU, this situation needs to be addressed carefully. Bureaucracy between Geneva and the Libyan government led to the 2018 EU backed anti-smuggling operations in Libya including tightening regulation of volunteer boats arriving on European shores, which inadvertently has impacted the increased death toll. The concern of agencies is regarding higher sanctions on boats already in transit, which will bread further desperation and in turn fatal impact if distress calls are not seen to.  Hence, emphasis should be made on reinforcing search and rescue operations, assist the Libyan coast guard and a careful and collaborative approach needs to be made with the international community to curb migrant smuggling and the cause of more deaths during this crossing.

​ It is also important to highlight the ​increase of displaced and vulnerable migrants who are at risk of exploitation, given the complexities of the migrants’ journey, it is a frequent occurrence that the definitions of trafficking and smuggling become obscured. Often victims will believe they are being smuggled but become trafficked through transit or at their destination country. Factors such as political instability, economic pressures and environmental issues are often the catalysts for migrants seeking to come to Europe. Illegal migrants often rely on organised criminal networks to facilitate their passage to Europe, leading to higher risk of exploitation and further blurring of the distinction between trafficking and smuggling. The migrant crisis in Libya provides a unique yet unfortunate opportunity for clarification: the controls aimed at ending the smuggling of migrants to Europe has been the catalyst of human trafficking inland.

For Untitled Nations reporting on the migrant crisis see here:

The Interconnection Between Slavery, Trafficking, Sexual Servitude and Terrorism

Issues of slavery, sexual servitude and trafficking are embedded as financing means in wider terror networks. The revenue produced by these means is used to sustain terrorist organisations, including the likes of Da’esh, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab and the Lord’s Resistance Army. Such financing means are being used to replace traditional fund raising. Instead slavery, weapon trafficking, sexual violence are increasingly used for money laundering to finance terror measures. This is engrained further due to the ideological justifications of sexual violence.

The total capital value of the slavery and sex market feeding on going terror networks is unknown. Some reports suggest kidnapping ransoms account for $10-30 million revenue to Da’esh in 2016. Other reports refer to a list they published, detailing ‘spoils of war’ including Yazidi women and children sold as sex slaves, virgins having been auctioned through social media for upwards of $12,000 each. Many accounts suggest terror soldiers use the promise of sex slaves in their recruitment process, and punishment of ‘non believers’.

In 2016 a specific Resolution 2331 of the Untied Nations Security Council was passed to address human trafficking within areas of armed conflict, recognising that these are ‘tactics’ for terror groups and are perpetrated mercilessly through the ‘strategic objectives and ideology’ of such groups. It states “that trafficking in persons undermines the rule of law and contributes to other forms of transnational organised crime’’. The UN Resolution 2331 encourages its member states to align their national policy with the wider intentions of Women, Security and Peace and the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. It targets the financial mechanisms between trafficking, large crime rings in conflict zones and terrorism.

Illicit economies make it difficult to protect victims and identify and apprehend perpetrators. However slavery and sexual servitude are considered war crimes and crimes against humanity, which have universal jurisdiction under the Commonwealth Criminal Code, deeming the location and nationality of the defendants irrelevant. There is need for legislation to address this nexus, and for enforcement by international forces and agencies on the ground in conflict zones. The definition of terrorism in both national and international law must be broadened to include sexual violence as a tactic, amongst the wider UN resolutions on Women, Peace and Security.

Tribute: International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

More than 15 million people were enslaved in Africa and sold during the Transatlantic Slave Trade, which constitutes the largest legally sanctioned forced movement of people in history. Spread over 400 years, 96% of those enslaved arrived in the Americas and remain a prominent foothold in the demographic. This year being its 70th anniversary, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains a foundation document in international law and slavery legislation:

“Article 4. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.’’

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres acknowledges this and makes a tribute to International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade this week on 25th March. Denoting this period as one of the most brutal and shameful eras in human history and remembering those who died and suffered, he aims to spread the message of equality and remind of the ‘dangers of racism and prejudice’ in social thought. Although modern slavery has changed form and means, much of our understanding is grounded in the history of the Transatlantic slavery era.

For the full tribute on the Victims of Transatlantic Slave Trade read here. 

UN Promotes Empirical Benefits of Migration 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) 2017 in close coordination with the Ministry of Migration and Displacement in Iraq is distributing non-food item kits to families in Al Habanyah displaced from west Anbar.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) 2017 in close coordination with the Ministry of Migration and Displacement in Iraq is distributing non-food item kits to families in Al Habanyah displaced from west Anbar.

Despite the stigma around the security threat of migration, Louise Arbour, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration at the United Nations stresses that the benefits are proved to outweigh the challenges according to empirical evidence. It is encouraged for governments and policy makers to make their decisions based upon data, rather than guided by emotive reactions to specific scenarios.  Although short-term effects of large influxes of migrants can become destabilising, long term, the movement of people is most often beneficial to a host country’s economy. In 2017, 85% of migrants’ earnings were transmitted to their host countries via taxes and spending.

The issue is that migration is an inevitable fact of a globalising world, in which “there are currently 258 million international migrants today, 3.4 per cent of the global population, an increase from 2.8 per cent in 2000, and the figure is expected to increase in the coming decades.’’ According to estimates by the McKinsey Global Institute “migrant workers in higher-productivity settings contributed $6.7 trillion – or 9.4 per cent – to global GDP in 2015, $3 trillion more than they would have produced in their countries of origin.”

Such figures cannot be ignored when using and creating rhetoric around migration, although extreme caution must be used at a national security level. If the figures are ignored and migration is treated with prejudice, migrants suffer less chance of successful integration and are at higher risk to exploitation, forced labour and neglect of human rights within host societies. The UN reiterates the imperative of statistical data to be utilised by organisations, private sector and media to balance the emotive and politicised response to migration. Using the facts and context, we must enhance the objective of international cooperation.

Further detail on the UN’s evidence-based approach to migration can be found here.

UN Finds Ongoing ‘Alarming Rates’ of Child Soldier Recruitment 

UN Photo/Tobin Jones A young child looks on as older boys play football next to a camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Mogadishu, Somalia.
UN Photo/Tobin Jones A young child looks on as older boys play football next to a camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Mogadishu, Somalia.

International attention has been brought to the issue of child soldiers as the United Nations released findings of high recruitment statistics, despite progress made last year. According to the United Nations, ‘’the global commitment to end the use of children in armed conflict led to the release and reintegration of more than 5,000 children in 2017’’. 

In 20 countries analysed by Virgina Gamba, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, ‘’tens of thousands of boys and girls are still being recruited, kidnapped, and forced to fight or work for military groups or armed forces at ‘alarming rates’.” The main goal is to prevent children from being recruited from within conflict zones, as their opportunities become limited once exploited in this environment and exposed to violence and trauma which ‘shapes their identity’. 

Reintegration is a sensitive process which requires ‘‘strong political and financial commitment’’. Once freed from armed forces, children are rehabilitated through education and training, medical and psycho-social support to cope with anti-socialisation they may have learned. There are questions around the effectiveness of international efforts and it is stressed that each case must be dealt with individually, the causes must not be assumed to be ideological, interventions must be long term and children treated with autonomy.

Read further on these findings of child soldiers in UN News.

Today, Over 200 Million are Subjugated to Female Genital Mutilation, UN Reports

This week on February the 6th marked the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). This practice is recognised as a violation of human rights against girls and women, and is an underlying cause of deep gender inequality.

The UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, speaks at the forum in Banjul, the Gambia. Photo: Alhagie Manka
The UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, speaks at the forum in Banjul, the Gambia. Photo: Alhagie Manka

Statistics produced from the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth in Gambia on Monday report that ‘’globally, over 200 million women and girls are estimated to have undergone some form of genital mutilation and girls aged 14 and younger account for about 44 million of those who have been “cut.”

Despite recent figures of FGM having declined, the Female genital mutilation ‘not acceptable’ in the 21st century – UN envoy on youth highlight the fact that in many of these counties, populations are rapidly growing, which means proportionately the numbers will increase.

Although the reasons for FGM lie in cultural, religious or traditional practices and are sometimes perpetrated by women through their own autonomous decisions, it ultimately aims at ensuring females are subservient to their husbands, and therefore an oppressive force beyond the accepted social framework.

Elimination of FGM is included in the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, agreed to by all Member States. Many countries have moved towards this by criminalising these harmful activities, including Gambia in 2015. However, on top of a legal framework to reduce the physical harm, all stakeholders are needed to accept a shift in status quo against acts that historically perpetrate inequality.

Read the full report here:

Female genital mutilation ‘not acceptable’ in the 21st century – UN envoy on youth