Civil Society Engagement and Prevention of Human Trafficking

Civil Society Engagement and Prevention of Human Trafficking

Saadet Ulasoglu Imamoglu
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-3926-5.ch008
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The issue of human trafficking has received a substantial amount of attention in recent years. Growing global concern around this grave crime has led the international community to develop a comprehensive framework for the global fight against it. One important aspect of this framework is to prevent trafficking from occurring and thus save the vulnerable from being exploited. To this end, it is essential to identify conditions that promote the achievement of strong preventative strategies. While recent reports on anti-trafficking efforts of countries have stressed the significant role of civil society in assisting governments to prevent human trafficking, the number of quantitative studies that examine this relationship has remained limited. To fill this gap, this chapter investigates empirically whether civil society participation reinforces governments' efforts to prevent trafficking. Based on the data for 165 countries over the period from 2003 to 2015, this chapter presents evidence that countries with strong civil society engagement take effective measures to prevent trafficking.
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Human trafficking is a widespread crime that extends beyond boundaries, causes exploitation of people who are vulnerable to deception, threats and coercion, and disrupts economic development by enlarging the illegal economic activities (Wheaton et al., 2010). Many governments, international and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have collaborated to develop a comprehensive international legal framework with the purpose of fighting against this crime, which defies national borders. As a result of rising global concern on trafficking, the United Nations adopted the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (United Nations, 2000a), hereinafter referred to as the Palermo Protocol, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Having been acknowledged as the main international anti-trafficking document since its adoption, the Palermo Protocol1 provides a clear definition for trafficking in persons and delegates responsibilities for governments to counter this grave crime. It characterizes human trafficking by recruitment, fraud, and coercion with the intention of exploitation and obliges State parties to develop policies in three dimensions: prosecution, protection and prevention (United Nations, 2000a). While the policy dimensions of prosecution and protection are concerned with the punishment of the traffickers and the protection of human rights of victims respectively, the policy dimension of prevention aims at saving the vulnerable from the exploitation before they are hurt.

For the effective implementation of prevention policies, the Palermo Protocol requires State parties to take practical measures that include: i) conducting research and media campaigns for raising awareness on trafficking, ii) curbing the demand that encourages exploitation of persons, iii) training law enforcement along with government officials for better detection of trafficking as well as its victims, and iv) empowering vulnerable populations especially women and children at risk of trafficking (United Nations, 2000a; United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2009). As illustrated in Figure 1, national practices for the implementation of effective preventative policies vary around the world. Countries such as Spain show greater commitment to ensure effective prevention measures including awareness-raising, training programs for government officials and partnership with civil society (United States Department of State, 2019). On the other hand, some countries such as Russia are less inclined to be involved in such effective prevention activities (United States Department of State, 2019). Since different national policy and practices create challenges that hinder coordinated anti-trafficking efforts, it is essential to identify the determinants of varying practices to achieve a comprehensive approach in preventing human trafficking. With the goal of contributing to the development of evidence-driven anti-trafficking policies as well as to the progression of the human trafficking literature, this chapter theoretically argues and empirically tests the impact of civil society participation on governmental efforts to prevent trafficking in persons.

Figure 1.

Prevention Efforts of Countries in 2015

Sources: Data from Cho (2015), Cho et al. (2014)

Why do some countries maintain effective implementation of prevention policies but not others? Several domestic factors including gender representation, political institutions, corruption and civil conflicts have attracted a substantial level of attention among scholars in explaining the efficiency of national anti-trafficking policy and practices (Avdeyeva, 2012; Bartilow, 2008; Cho & Vadlamannati, 2012; Cho et al., 2014; Schonhofer, 2017; Ulasoglu Imamoglu, 2021). While the Palermo Protocol acknowledges civil society as an essential partner in preventing trafficking, the impact of civil society engagement on efficient prevention efforts has received relatively little attention in quantitative research.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Smuggling: The method by which people are transferred across borders illegally with the purpose of gaining material benefits (UN, 2000b).

Prosecution: Measures to prosecute and punish traffickers through strict legal regulations as well as well-trained law enforcement and government officials (UN, 2000a).

Palermo Protocol: As officially known, the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, adopted by the United Nations in 2000, is the main international legal instrument to fight against human trafficking.

Anti-Trafficking: Efforts to eradicate human trafficking by prosecuting the perpetrators, preventing the future acts of exploitation, and protecting the victims (UN, 2000a).

Human Trafficking: A set of processes including the act of recruitment or transfer of people through deception or coercion for the purpose of exploitation (UN, 2000a).

Protection: Measures to protect and assist the victims of human trafficking including providing them with shelter and legal advice (UN, 2000a).

Civil Society Organizations: Organizations that are independent from governments and work on a non-profit basis ( Clayton et al., 2000 ).

Prevention: Measures to eradicate human trafficking including awareness-raising, curbing the demand that fosters the exploitation of people, and empowering the vulnerable (UN, 2000a).

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