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UNODC — Global Report on Trafficking in Persons – in the context of armed conflict 2018

UNODC — Global Report on Trafficking in Persons – in the context of armed conflict 2018

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  1. “Glob­al Report On Traf­fick­ing In Per­sons 2018” (Pub­lished in Decem­ber 2018)
  2. Book­let “Traf­fick­ing in per­sons in the con­text of armed con­flict” (Pub­lished in Decem­ber 2018)
  3. “Hand­book on Chil­dren Recruit­ed and Exploit­ed by Ter­ror­ist and Vio­lent Extrem­ist Groups: The Role of the Jus­tice Sys­tem” (Pub­lished in 2017)

This year’s Glob­al Report indi­cates that the over­all num­ber of report­ed traf­fick­ing vic­tims has increased. The UNODC (Unit­ed Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Vien­na) Glob­al Report on Traf­fick­ing in Per­sons 2018 puts the spot­light on human traf­fick­ing in armed con­flict because Traf­fick­ing in armed con­flict has tak­en on hor­rif­ic dimen­sions—child sol­diers, forced labour, sex­u­al slavery.

Human traf­fick­ing is always a crime, com­mit­ted with the inten­tion to exploit; in con­flict sit­u­a­tions, char­ac­ter­ized by vio­lence, bru­tal­i­ty and coer­cion, traf­fick­ers can oper­ate with even greater impuni­ty. The vast major­i­ty of detect­ed vic­tims of traf­fick­ing for sex­u­al exploita­tion and 35 per cent of those traf­ficked for forced labour are female. Con­flict fur­ther exac­er­bates vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, with armed groups exploit­ing civil­ians and traf­fick­ers tar­get­ing forcibly dis­placed people.

The need to take urgent action against these vio­la­tions has been rec­og­nized by the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, award­ed to Nadia Murad, the Unit­ed Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Good­will Ambas­sador for the Dig­ni­ty of Sur­vivors of Human Trafficking.

Ms. Murad, a young Yazi­di woman who was enslaved and raped by ISIL ter­ror­ists after they destroyed her vil­lage and killed mem­bers of her fam­i­ly, is the first-ever human traf­fick­ing vic­tims to serve as a Unit­ed Nations Good­will Ambas­sador. She was award­ed the Nobel Peace Prize along with Dr. Denis Muk­wege for their efforts to end the use of sex­u­al vio­lence as a weapon of war and armed con­flict—a well-deserved hon­our for her tire­less efforts to tell her sto­ry and seek justice.


The “Glob­al Report On Traf­fick­ing In Per­sons 2018”main points are the following:

  • Glob­al­ly coun­tries are detect­ing and report­ing more vic­tims, and are con­vict­ing more traffickers. 
    • This can be the result of increased capac­i­ty to iden­ti­fy vic­tims and/or an increased num­ber of traf­ficked vic­tims. Over the last ten years, the capac­i­ty of nation­al author­i­ties to track and assess pat­terns and flows of traf­fick­ing in per­sons has improved in many parts of the world. This is also due to a spe­cif­ic focus of the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty in devel­op­ing stan­dards for data collection.
    • In 2009, only 26 coun­tries had an insti­tu­tion which sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly col­lect­ed and dis­sem­i­nat­ed data on traf­fick­ing cas­es, while by 2018, the num­ber had risen to 65.
    • From a region­al per­spec­tive, the increas­es in the num­bers of detect­ed vic­tims have been more pro­nounced in the Amer­i­c­as and in Asia.
  • Still large areas of impunity:
    • The num­ber of con­vic­tions has only recent­ly start­ed to grow. Pro­nounced increas­ing trends in the num­bers of con­vic­tions were record­ed in Asia, the Amer­i­c­as, and Africa and the Mid­dle East.
    • How­ev­er, many coun­tries in Africa and Asia con­tin­ue to have very low num­bers of con­vic­tions for traf­fick­ing, and at the same time detect few­er victims.
    • This sug­gests that traf­fick­ing net­works oper­ate with a high degree of impuni­ty in these coun­tries. This impuni­ty could serve as an incen­tive to car­ry out more trafficking.
  • More traf­fick­ing of domes­tic vic­tims, while the rich­est coun­tries are des­ti­na­tions for long-dis­tance flows:
    • West­ern and South­ern Europe and coun­tries in the Mid­dle East, for exam­ple, record siz­able shares of vic­tims traf­ficked from oth­er regions; where­as such detec­tions are rel­a­tive­ly rare in most oth­er parts of the world.
    • Traf­fick­ers are main­ly tar­get­ing women and girls.
    • The vast major­i­ty of the detect­ed vic­tims of traf­fick­ing for sex­u­al exploita­tion are females, and 35 per cent of the vic­tims traf­ficked for forced labour are also females, both women and girls. At the same time, more than half of the vic­tims of traf­fick­ing for forced labour are men.
    • There are con­sid­er­able region­al dif­fer­ences in the sex and age pro­files of detect­ed traf­fick­ing vic­tims, how­ev­er. In West Africa, most of the detect­ed vic­tims are chil­dren, both boys and girls, while in South Asia, vic­tims are equal­ly report­ed to be men, women and children.
    • Traf­fick­ing for sex­u­al exploita­tion con­tin­ues to be the most detect­ed form.
    • Most of the vic­tims detect­ed glob­al­ly are traf­ficked for sex­u­al exploita­tion, although this pat­tern is not con­sis­tent across all regions.
    • Traf­fick­ing for forced labour is the most com­mon­ly detect­ed form in sub-Saha­ran Africa. In the Mid­dle East, forced labour is also the main form of traf­fick­ing detect­ed, main­ly involv­ing adults. In Cen­tral Asia and South Asia, traf­fick­ing for forced labour and sex­u­al exploita­tion are near-equal­ly detect­ed, although with dif­fer­ent vic­tim profiles.
  • Armed con­flicts can dri­ve vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties to traf­fick­ing in persons:
    • Armed con­flicts can increase the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty to traf­fick­ing in dif­fer­ent ways.
    • Areas with weak rule of law and lack of resources to respond to crime pro­vide traf­fick­ers with a fer­tile ter­rain to car­ry out their operations.
    • This is exac­er­bat­ed by more peo­ple in a des­per­ate sit­u­a­tion, lack­ing access to basic needs.
    • Some armed groups involved in con­flict may exploit civil­ians. Armed groups and oth­er crim­i­nals may take the oppor­tu­ni­ty to traf­fic victims—including children—for sex­u­al exploita­tion, sex­u­al slav­ery, forced mar­riage, armed com­bat and var­i­ous forms of forced labour.
  • Traf­fick­ing in per­sons for sex­u­al exploita­tion occurs with­in all con­flict areascon­sid­ered:
    • includ­ing sub-Saha­ran Africa, North Africa and the Mid­dle East, South-East Asia and oth­ers. In some refugee camps in the Mid­dle East, for example.
    • It has been doc­u­ment­ed that girls and young women have been “mar­ried off” with­out their con­sent and sub­ject­ed to sex­u­al exploita­tion in neigh­bour­ing countries.
    • Abduc­tion of women and girls for sex­u­al slav­ery has been report­ed in many con­flicts in Cen­tral and West Africa, as well as in the con­flicts in the Mid­dle East. It has also been report­ed that women and girls are traf­ficked for forced mar­riage in the same areas.
    • Recruit­ment of chil­dren for use as armed com­bat­ants is wide­ly doc­u­ment­ed in many of the con­flict areas con­sid­ered: from the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic of the Con­go to the Cen­tral African Repub­lic, as well as in con­flicts in the Mid­dle East and oth­er parts of Asia.


    • Despite the progress, impuni­ty still pre­vails in large parts of the globe, as shown, for instance, by the low lev­els of vic­tim detec­tions and traf­fick­er con­vic­tions record­ed in sub-Saha­ran Africa and parts of Asia. Most coun­tries in these regions are now par­ties to the UN Traf­fick­ing in Per­sons Pro­to­col and have appro­pri­ate leg­is­la­tion in place. The work in these regions of ori­gin, as well as in their main coun­tries of des­ti­na­tion now needs to focus on imple­men­ta­tion of the Pro­to­col provisions.
    • In a depar­ture from pri­or Glob­al Report edi­tions, the data show that vic­tims who have been detect­ed with­in their own nation­al bor­ders now rep­re­sent the largest part of the vic­tims detect­ed world­wide. This find­ing clear­ly illus­trates that the crime of traf­fick­ing in per­sons is not always defined by transna­tion­al­i­ty, and should be treat­ed as a crim­i­nal jus­tice pri­or­i­ty in all nation­al juris­dic­tions.
    • While transna­tion­al traf­fick­ing net­works are still preva­lent and must be respond­ed to through inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion, nation­al jus­tice mea­sures, strate­gies and pri­or­i­ties should acknowl­edge the increas­ing­ly nation­al nature of the traf­fick­ing problem.


  • Address­ing traf­fick­ing in per­sons in con­flict sit­u­a­tion is par­tic­u­lar­ly challenging:
    • A recent UNODC The­mat­ic Paper on Coun­ter­ing Traf­fick­ing in Per­sons in Con­flict Sit­u­a­tions dis­cuss­es how to inte­grate efforts against traf­fick­ing in per­sons into con­flict-relat­ed work.
    • The Paper address­es the issue of infor­ma­tion gath­er­ing and research in con­flict and post­con­flict areas and the pre­ven­tion of traf­fick­ing in per­sons in con­flict sit­u­a­tions, includ­ing reduc­ing people’s vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty to being traf­ficked or becom­ing a per­pe­tra­tor of trafficking.
    • In addi­tion, the The­mat­ic Paper address­es the issue of vic­tims’ assis­tance and pro­tec­tion in con­flict set­tings, the inves­ti­ga­tions and pros­e­cu­tions of cas­es of traf­fick­ing in per­sons in these con­texts, and the issue of strength­en­ing coop­er­a­tionamong the dif­fer­ent actors work­ing in con­flict and post-con­flict areas.


  • Train­ing pro­grams about HT must be devel­oped and proposed: 
    • It is impor­tant to ensure that peace­keep­ing per­son­nel deployed in field mis­sions have the capac­i­ty to iden­ti­fy and report on cas­es of traf­fick­ing in per­sons, in line with their mandates.
    • For that rea­son, con­sid­er­a­tion should be giv­en to review­ing pre-deploy­ment train­ing cur­ric­u­la for field mis­sion per­son­nelto bet­ter address traf­fick­ing in persons.


  • The crim­i­nal jus­tice insti­tu­tions and nation­al author­i­ties are often not equipped to ade­quate­ly address this phenomenon:
    • The UNODC Hand­book on Chil­dren Recruit­ed and Exploit­ed by Ter­ror­ist and Vio­lent Extrem­ist Groups” is a tool for pol­i­cy-mak­ers and pro­vides guid­ance in three main areas: 
      • (a) pre­vent­ing child recruit­ment by ter­ror­ist and vio­lent extrem­ist groups;
      • (b) iden­ti­fy­ing effec­tive jus­tice respons­es to chil­dren recruit­ed and exploit­ed by such groups, whether they are in con­tact with the jus­tice sys­tem as vic­tims, wit­ness­es or alleged offenders;
      • © pro­mot­ing the reha­bil­i­ta­tion and rein­te­gra­tion of those children.


  • There remain sig­nif­i­cant knowl­edge gaps relat­ed to the pat­terns and flows of traf­fick­ing in persons:
    • Many coun­tries in sub-Saha­ran Africa, South Asia and some parts of East Asia still lack suf­fi­cient capac­i­ty to record and share data on traf­fick­ing in persons.


The “Glob­al Report On Traf­fick­ing In Per­sons 2018presents in details the fol­low­ing information:

  • Glob­al overview 
    • More vic­tims detected
    • More con­vic­tions glob­al­ly, but still vast areas of impunity
    • Pro­file of the victims
    • Forms of exploitation
    • Pro­file of the offenders
    • Traf­fick­ing flows
    • Insti­tu­tion­al response
  • Region­al overviews 
    • West­ern And South­ern Europe
    • Cen­tral And South-East­ern Europe
    • East­ern Europe And Cen­tral Asia
    • South Asia
    • East Asia And The Pacific
    • North And Cen­tral Amer­i­ca And The Caribbean
    • South Amer­i­ca
    • Sub-Saha­ran Africa
    • North Africa And The Mid­dle East







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