Latest modern slavery fight updates -

International law on organized crime key in tackling human trafficking

  • Published on
    February 27, 2020
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Human Trafficking, Law & Policy
Hero Banner

Long-standing debates within the counter-trafficking and counter-smuggling space have focused on the ineffectiveness around the definitions used in the Trafficking in Persons protocol which supplement the United Nations Transnational Organized Crime Convention (UNTOC).

However, in a recent article published on Open Democracy, Marika McAdam argues that the legal framework is not flawed.

Instead, McAdam explains that commentators, scholars, and legal experts have a flawed comprehension and application of this specific body of international law.

The transnational organized crime element was so important to drafters of the earlier versions of the trafficking protocol, that it was proposed to limit its scope to only ‘international trafficking.’

LEARN: What is human trafficking?

Yet, today, this very important qualifier is essentially deemed insignificant when interpreted in practice by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

McAdam writes in Open Democracy:

Legislative guides and model laws explain that ‘transnationality’ and ‘involvement of organized criminal groups’ need not be captured in domestic offences, so that prosecutors are not required to prove these elements in order to secure conviction.

The lack of clarity around interpretations of  ‘trafficking of persons’ in international law is further compounded by the use of terms such as ‘exploitation’ and ‘modern slavery’, which McAdam perceives as weakening the level of concern for the serious crime of human trafficking.

Criminal justice responses rarely help when they target desperately poor families with children in domestic servitude, or in places where early marriage is a deeply entrenched cultural practice.

Marika McAdam’s piece reveals that a strong effort against human trafficking lies in effectively using and interpreting existing legal instruments under international law, for what they were intended to address.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This week

The "Migration Pact" that could mean the end of human rights in the E.U.

After nearly a decade of deliberation, the European Parliament recently passed a sweeping overhaul of the European Union’s asylum and migration rules with what is known as the “Migration Pact” which advocates say will lead to an increase in human rights abuses, including extreme exploitation. According to Al Jazeera, prominent E.U. figures like German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and E.U. Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson believe these reforms

| Wednesday April 10, 2024

Read more