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 year.

The victims

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 Definition

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, etc.

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.

Legal risks

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.

Reputational risks

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 disapproval.

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 or services

6. By adopting and implementing corporate policies with commitments to respect human rights, labour standards and anti-corruption.

Take the e-learning Course

Overview

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.

Development team

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.

What is Human Trafficking?

It is the third largest criminal activity worldwide, after arms and drugs, affecting all sectors of society. According to the International Labour Organisation... Read more>

How does it impact business?

There are three main ways through which a business can become involved in human trafficking... Read more>

What can a business do?

There are many ways a business can responsibly address human trafficking within its own operations and supply chains...           Read more>

Overview

Get a better understanding of human trafficking and its challenges through our e-learning course. Designed to serve as an interactive, web-based resource... Read more>