Writes Althea, Content Writer, Headline Diplomat eMagazine, LUDCI.eu
The trafficking of minors or child trafficking is a form of human trafficking that describes the transfer or recruitment of babies, children, or adolescents from one place to another to exploit them. Although the framework of this exploitation includes sexual exploitation, domestic slavery, forced labor, organ trafficking, and forced criminality; the most common are labor and sexual exploitation.
In general terms, trafficking in human beings is defined by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) as “the recruitment, transport, transfer, harboring or reception of persons, by the threat of recourse to force or other forms of coercion, by kidnapping, fraud, deception, abuse of authority or situation of vulnerability, or by offering or accepting payments or benefits to obtain the consent of one person with authority over another for the purpose of exploitation.”
The framework of this exploitation includes sexual exploitation, domestic slavery, forced labor, organ trafficking, and forced criminality.
- 3rd most profitable crime: Human trafficking is the 3rd most profitable type of trafficking for organized criminal groups today, according to ECPAT International. It comes next just after arms and drug trafficking.
- $32 billion annual profits: The International Labour International (ILO) reports that this form of trafficking generates a whopping profit of $32 billion every year. However, the number could be far more than that. The ILO reports in 2014 that forced labor, a single element of human trafficking, was generating about $150 billion profits
- 25 million victims: According to the ILO, there are currently 25 million victims of human trafficking around the world, most of whom are children and women. Every year, around 2.5 million people, who are mostly children and women, are the victims of the recruitments, transportation, entrapment, and exploitation from these criminal groups, as per a 2007 report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNDOC).
- 15% of victims are children: Trafficking is also a form of gender violence. According to statistics published by the European Commission in 2013, the number of proven and suspected victims in the European Union (EU) increased by 18% between 2008 and 2010. Among these victims, 68% were women, 17% of men, 12% of girls, and 3% were boys.
- 2 million minors annually: Although it is difficult to obtain exact statistics on the extent of trafficking in girls and boys, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund estimates that 1.2 million minors are trafficked annually.
- 23% of victims in 2018 were children: According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), 72% of the victims detected in 2018 were women (49%) and girls (23%). In Africa, the Global Slavery Index, estimates that around 9.2 million people in Africa, as of 2016, are modern-day slavery victims. That’s 23% of the total number (40 million) across the world, according to the ILO.
IGOs to the rescue
Thanks to the acceleration of the fight against the crime of child labor, an element of child trafficking, the ILO announced that the number had declined to 215 million in 2008 from 222 million in 2004.
The numbers indicating the grim operation and effect of human trafficking seem to have been dropping over the years, and this is thanks to the fight put in by international human rights organizations and coalitions. Human trafficking used to be the 2nd most profitable organized criminal activity as of 2010, after drug trafficking, according to InSight Crime.
A 2019 Trafficking in Person’s Report by the State Department in the United States found out that the justice department of the country opened much fewer investigations on human trafficking in 2018 than in 2017. This number dropped from 783 cases in 2017 to 657 in 2018, according to the US News.
The reasons are not far-fetched! Faced with the problems of child trafficking, and witnessing how state governments fail to cover the problem comprehensively, several international governmental organizations (IGOs) have dedicated themselves to the financial, psychological, physical, and emotional care of the victims.
There are about 5,000 IGOs, both extant and dormant, around the world, according to the Yearbook of International Organizations of the Union of International Associations. However, just 7 in this list are notably fighting child trafficking. These include the UNICEF, ILO, INTERPOL, UNODC, IOM, OSCE, and the European Union (EU).
Below are the IGOs that are having the most significant anti-child trafficking impacts globally.
The United Nations through UNODC
Trafficking in human beings is a transnational phenomenon. The fight against trafficking must, therefore, go through international cooperation. The United Nations thus took up the issue with the creation, within the Human Rights Council, of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) launched the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) in 2007, in collaboration with the International Labor Organization (ILO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
A UNODC working group developed a Global Plan of Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, which was approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 2010 (resolution AG 64/293) with a view to the effective application of the Palermo Protocols.
Through the GLO.ACT Asia and the Middle East, a 4-year €12 million joint initiative was signed with the EU in collaboration with the IOM, according to the office.
The UNODC, according to its data, also budgeted $1,391,000 and $2,836,018 in Latin America and the Caribbean, $1,906.876 in Central America, $135,600 in southeast Europe, $600,000, $756,000 and $190,700 in east and central Europe, and more, for its counter actions against drugs and crime, including child trafficking.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM)
The flow of child migrants from Africa to Europe has been on the rise in recent years. For its part, the IOM announced in 2019 that its intervention has seen the rescue of 20,000 migrants since it started operation in the Sahara Desert region. In partnership with Save the Children, is currently assisting 600 child returnees in Ethiopia, in a project which started in 2019. In 2015, it rescued 20 children in Ghana who were victims of exploitative labor, according to the organization. In West Africa, the organization launched the Ghana Child Counter-Trafficking Project, and “for the past ten years, the project has rescued, rehabilitated, returned, and reintegrated 731 children,” according to a new report.
Since 2016, IOM has budgeted a total amount of $115,214,700 on counter-trafficking projects across the world, according to multiple budget data from the organization’s annual reports which cover 2016 to 2020. In 2016, it budgeted $16,328,900, in 2017, the budget for counter-trafficking projects rose to $24,036,000. In 2018, $28,828,700 was budgeted. Meanwhile, for 2019 and 2020, the budget for human trafficking, tagged: “Budget for Protection and Assistance for Migrants in Vulnerable Situations and Counter-trafficking” got $23,331,400 and $22,689,700 respectively.
Below is a tabular breakdown of the budget for human trafficking over the last 5 years:
|2019||Budget for Protection and Assistance for Migrants in Vulnerable Situations and Counter-trafficking||$23,331,400|
|2020||Budget for Protection and Assistance for Migrants in Vulnerable Situations and Counter-trafficking||$22,689,700|
Data from IOM.org
United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
UNICEF’s role in the prevention of human trafficking is focused on issues that affect children. Created in 1946, UNICEF is “mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to defend the rights of children, to help meet their basic needs and to promote their full development,” according to its mission statement. It works to prevent social vices against children like physical, sexual, and emotional violence, child trafficking, child marriage, child labor, and child neglect.
The fund directly works with governments, providing finance and supports in strengthening policies, services, and laws relating to child trafficking and labor standards.
For its anti-child trafficking projects, the fund relies on government and private revenue sources. According to its data, UNICEF expects the following as revenue between the period of 2018 to 2021.
|International organizations||$2.363 billion|
|Private sector||$8.231 billion|
Data from UNICEF
While donations from governments account for 2/3 (66%) of its revenue, donations from private organizations make up to 1/3 (34%).
A typical and recent example of how UNICEF has been acting against child trafficking can be seen in its 2019 intervention off Libya’s coast. According to the UN’s data, a total of 400 humans were rescued thanks to the appeal of the fund. The report further adds that 100 of these victims were children and that just 11 of them “had a parent or guardian with them.”
The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) is the largest international police organization in the world, with 194 member countries. This makes it one of the largest international organizations in the world, surpassing the number of countries in the United Nations (193) by one. Created in 1923 under the name of the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPO), it works in providing intelligence about crime, especially trafficking, on the global stage.
In April 2019, the organization rescued 216 humans in West Africa, most of whom are children, and were forced into forced labor and prostitution. According to Interpol, these victims were rescued in Nigeria and the Benin Republic, with a total of 47 people connected with the crime arrested.
According to a statement on their website: “The children were aged between 11 and 16. There, police found a boy who had been forced to carry, clandestinely, between the two countries heavy goods such as bags of rice weighing up to 40 kg.”
In 2016, the police organisation announced it rescued over 2,700 victims, made 134 arrests, and dismantled 7 organized crime networks in southern and Central America.
INTERPOL has an annual budget of 139 million euros ($164 million), according to the organisation’s data.
International Labor Organization (ILO)
The ILO’s work is about promoting social justice and, in particular, ensuring respect for human rights in the working sector.
The ILO develops international labor conventions and recommendations which define the minimum standards to be observed in the areas within its competence: freedom of association, the right to organize and collective bargaining, the abolition of forced labor, equality of opportunity and treatment, etc.
According to the organization, it also provides technical assistance in various sectors: vocational training and rehabilitation, employment policy, labor administration, labor law, and industrial relations, working conditions, management training, cooperatives, social security, labor statistics, occupational safety, and health. The ILO encourages the establishment of independent employers and workers organizations and facilitates their development through training and advice.
In 2019 alone, the ILO announced it received over $459 million in voluntary funding from its partners for its operations. To alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on child labor, the ILO recently announced a flagship program for which it says it requires $71 million from June 2020 to June 2022. According to the report, a total of $21 million has already been allocated from April to December 2020. An additional $50 million has been appealed for.
Human trafficking is a big business for crime syndicates, and most of the victims are children. However, 215 million child laborers are still a significant number, and it highlights the need for consistency in this effort. Nevertheless, this number represents a reduction of 3% in 4 years, according to the ILO, and this is thanks to the works and supports of concerned states, NGOs, the coalitions of several international organisations such as the IOM, UNICEF, UNODC, INTERPOL, ILO, and many others that weren’t mentioned. Seeing the efforts that are already put in place, the intervention, rescue, and rehabilitation must continue. This is because, child trafficking, according to the GBC Education, traps children in poverty, is a barrier to learning, and will have consequences for the coming generation.