Trafficking in Persons
Trafficking in persons is – as all types of illicit trades – a lucrative form of organized crime and a high-profit, low-risk activity. This human rights abuse represents a failure of nation states and the global community to ensure the security of their citizens. The International Labour Organization estimates that 20.9 million people are victims of forced labor globally and that trafficked forced laborers produce a total illicit proﬁt of US$150 billion per year (ILO, 2014). A 2019 report by ILO/OECD/IOM/UNICEF attempts to measure the total number of people in forced/child/trafficked labor in global supply chains, and provides a set of recommendations for governments and business.
Trafficking in persons is an issue in a wide range of sectors that are vulnerable to illicit trade, including but not limited to fisheries, agriculture, manufacturing and mining. In terms of forced labor in the private economy, ILO and WFF found that 24 percent were domestic workers, 18 percent worked in construction, 15 percent in manufacturing, 11 percent in agriculture, forestry and fishing, 10 percent in accommodation and food services, 9 percent in wholesale and trade, 7 percent in personal services, 4 percent in mining and quarrying, and 1 percent in begging. The U.S. Department of Labor has identified 139 goods from 75 countries produced by forced and child labor, including everything from diamonds and cotton to garments and electronics.
Consumers are increasingly aware and interested in the conditions under which the goods that they buy are made. It is therefore in companies’ interest to ensure that workers are paid fair wages and that supply chains are free from forced or trafficked labor. Failing to do so can potentially lead to severe reputational damage, lost contracts and market share, as well as costs associated with criminal and civil liability. Conversely, promoting human rights and fair conditions can increase consumer trust, build brand loyalty and generate goodwill. Furthermore, it is in the interests of companies that are abiding by labor laws to advocate and push an anti-human trafficking agenda in the interest of a level playing field free from those companies that make their illegal profits from unpaid wages.
TRACIT is a member of the ILO Global Business Network Forced Labour (GBNFL), an umbrella network of networks offering a forum for collaboration convened by the International Labour Organization (ILO) where business and business networks come together behind a common objective of leveraging comparative advantages and collective action towards the elimination of forced labour and human trafficking. More information can be found at flbusiness.network
Learn how trafficking in persons impacts the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals
From smuggling, counterfeiting and tax evasion, to the illegal sale or possession of goods, services, humans and wildlife, illicit trade is compromising the attainment of the UN SDGs in significant ways, crowding out legitimate economic activity, depriving governments of revenues for investment in vital public services, dislocating millions of legitimate jobs and causing irreversible damage to ecosystems and human lives.
The TRACIT report Mapping the Impact of Illicit Trade on the Sustainable Development Goals investigates illicit trade in 12 key sectors that participate significantly in international trade and are most vulnerable to illicit trade. For each sector, the negative impacts of illicit trade are mapped against the 17 UN SDGs. The full report is available here.
Read the chapter: SDGs and trafficking in persons
Whenever we find poverty and lack of opportunity – wherever the rule of law is weak, where corruption is most ingrained, where minorities are abused, and where populations can’t count on the protection of government – we find not just vulnerability to trafficking, but zones of impunity where traffickers can prey on their victims. […] The magnitude of the challenge is real, but make no mistake: So are the opportunities for progress.