Human Trafficking is a global problem. International legal consensus on the issue was reached with the ratification of the Convention on Organised Crime in Palermo in 2000, ratified to date by 117 countries (146 Parties in total), and its associated Protocols (the Palermo Protocols), including the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children 2003, and the Protocol Against smuggling Migrants by Land, Sea and Air 2004. The ratification of the Convention has resulted in a common definition of human trafficking and a consensus around approaches to combat it.
Accordingly, international anti-trafficking policy has been dominated by the prevention, protection and prosecution paradigm as set out in the Palermo Protocols (IOM email communication; US Department of State 2011).
- Prevention: The Trafficking Protocols require States Parties to establish comprehensive policies to prevent trafficking and adopt or strengthen measures to reduce demand that fosters exploitation. Prevention measures also include greater efforts to regulate and monitor labour recruitment and other contributing practices; for non-state actors this includes public awareness campaigns and advocacy measures.
- Protection: Protection measures include specific measures for victim recovery and the adoption of measures to allow victims to remain in the country’s territory in appropriate cases.
- Prosecution: States are required to criminalise trafficking, prohibit and punish human trafficking crimes, and enact adequate national legislation to criminalise trafficking.
Efforts to tackle the problem is taking place at different levels, ranging from the various UN Agencies and country-level initiatives.