This analysis will explore the transnational threat associated with human trafficking. The primary focus of this report will be to identify specific actions being taken to combat human trafficking, particularly across international lines. The report will first provide a broad summary of the threat followed by a synopsis of various responses to the threat. It should be understood that while human trafficking does not necessarily require international movement, this analysis will focus on the international aspects of trafficking to further understand the globalization of the threat.
Summary of the Threat:
Human trafficking has become a serious transnational threat, threatening the security of not only the individual victims but entire communities as well. According to the United States Department of State, an estimated eight hundred thousand to nine hundred thousand people are trafficked internationally per year with up to eighty percent women and fifty percent minors (State, 2010). While the most commonly understood reason for human trafficking is for the use of prostitution, the enslavement and forced labor of trafficking victims is on the rise and is a very real threat to transnational security (State, 2010).
Human trafficking is defined as the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring 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 giving or receiving payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation” (UNOC, 2010).
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the major source countries for trafficked individuals are: China, Nigeria, Thailand, Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus, and the Ukraine (UNODC, 2010); with major destination countries of Japan, Thailand, Israel, the Netherlands, German, Italy, United States, and Belgium (UNODC, 2010). While current numbers indicate a large number of trafficking victims originating in Asian countries, the US Department of State has clearly identified the former Soviet states as rising sources of trafficking victims (State, 2010).
The US and International Response:
With the rise of human trafficking, many nations including the United States have made it a priority threat to be dealt with within the last several years. In 1998 the United States issued a state wide anti- trafficking strategy based on the prevention of human trafficking, protection of the victims, and prosecution of traffickers; this eventually led to the 2000 enactment of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection act of 2000 (Miko, 2003). The FY 2003 Congressional Appropriations Resolution included a minimum of thirty two million dollars specifically intended to assist in the fight against human trafficking (Miko, 2003).
Furthermore the United States in conjunction with the EU, the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and several other individual nations have banded together to combat the threat and have since adopted and signed the 2000 UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, a United Nations Resolution that clearly defines the act of human trafficking and has since established an international definition of the criminal act, also known as the Palermo Protocol (UNODC, 2010). To date nearly one hundred twenty nations have accepted and signed the UN Protocol, establishing a universal understanding and criminalization of human trafficking (UNODC, 2010).
Since the enactment of the Palermo Protocol in 2003, the United States has taken it upon itself to serve as the unofficial “enforcer” of the guidelines (Chuang, 2006). The United States has utilized the Palermo Protocol as the basis for its “minimum standards” for eliminating trafficking, spelled out in the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection act, TVPA (Chuang, 2006). Any nation that is seen to be in violation of the standards set forth in the TVPA, has since been subject to unilateral sanctions issued by the United States (Chuang, 2006). The TVPA has authorized the US President to withdraw non trade related, non humanitarian financial aid from countries deemed non compliant with the standards for combating human trafficking (Chuang, 2006).
Although the unilateral approach the United States has taken, is often considered an over exertion of its powers and the US government is often seen as over stepping its bounds in international circles, it is essential to the fight against human trafficking. The Palermo Protocol did an excellent job of establishing a universal law standardizing the criminalization of trafficking; unfortunately, there is no international police force capable of enforcing the law.
The United States has taken it upon itself to enforce the laws with the threat of economic sanctions to punish states NOT enforcing the laws and standards within their own borders. This is a huge step towards the defeat of human trafficking, however, the United States does not have influence and power to serve as the world’s police force, and individual nations MUST take it upon themselves to combat human trafficking themselves. Until this is done or until an official international police force, with the authority to make arrests and prosecute individuals (not likely to happen) is developed, human trafficking will remain a major concern for international security.
Works Cited Chuang, J. (2006). The United States As Global Sheriff: Using Unilateral Sanctions to Combat Human Trafficking. Washington, DC: American University Washington College of Law.
Miko, F. (2003). Trafficking in Women and Children: The US and International Response. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (2010). Human Trafficking. Global Programme Against Trafficking in Persons.
US Department of State. (2010). Trafficking in Persons Report. Washington, DC: Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Ryan works for the US Government in the National Capital Region & studied at American University for his BA and George Washington University for his MA.