What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is one of the largest and most profitable crimes
in the world, affecting all sectors of society. According to the International Labour
Organisation, (ILO, 2005) approximately 2.5 million people are trafficked every
Human trafficking is a global phenomenon that affects every region, country and
economic sector. However, there are certain categories of workers and people that
are more vulnerable to this human rights violation than others. While some are at
risk because of their relative poverty or their irregular migrant status, others
are vulnerable because they are unemployed, young, or because of their ethnic background.
The UN defines human trafficking as: "The recruitment, transportation, transfer,
harbouring 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 the giving or receiving of payments or benefits
to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose
of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the
prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services,
slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs."
How does it impact business?
Companies may risk being associated with human trafficking in a range of ways:
1. Traffickers may use a company's products, premises and/or services in connection
with their trafficking activities.
Example: Transporting trafficked victims via international airlines, shipping companies,
2. By allowing exploitation of trafficking victims within their supply chain. Example:
The use of forced labour by suppliers or sub-contractors.
3. By employing a workforce supplied by third party agents over which they have
limited oversight. Example: Using labour brokers whose ruthless treatment of workers
amounts to trafficking.
What are the business risks?
There are two types of risk associated with human trafficking: legal and reputational.
Businesses directly or indirectly involved through their supply chain risk violating
national civil and/or criminal legal requirements, resulting in custodial sentences,
fines and/or civil claims.
Claims of being implicated in human trafficking, even if unproven, can damage the
interests of a business in many ways including reducing consumer demand for a company's
products; loss of share price due to concern; low workforce morale; and government
What can a business do?
There are many ways a business can responsibly address human trafficking within
its own operations and supply chains:
1. By learning more about human trafficking
2. By meeting the terms of relevant national and international laws
3. By conducting risk assessments to become aware of, manage and eliminate the risk
when operating in sectors and regions of higher risk
4. By conducting training and internal and external communications to pro actively
raise awareness of the problem and identify how staff, business partners and customers
may come into contact with it
5. By taking steps to make it harder for traffickers to use its products, premises
6. By adopting and implementing corporate policies with commitments to respect human
rights, labour standards and anti-corruption.
Take the e-learning Course
Get a better understanding of human trafficking and its challenges through our e-learning
course. Designed to serve as an interactive, web-based resource, the e-learning
tool will help identify the potential risks of human trafficking in a business and
point out actions that can be taken to address them.
The e-learning course was created by UN.GIFT and the EHTN! Campaign, with the support
of private partners. The tool is technically developed and sponsored by Microsoft.
A Work in Progress
The e-learning tool is under development with new modules being added to address
specific economic sectors, industries and professions. These modules as well as
those that are already available can be customised to meet the specific needs of
a company or business association.