Human trafficking research paper

Human Trafficking: A Historical Overview

Human trafficking is the practice of recruiting and transporting individuals or groups of people from their home nation to another country using deception, power, or compulsion. Human trafficking and exploitation are thought to have originated with the ancient Greeks and Romans. People were subjugated to many sorts of sexual and physical servitude in ancient times. In the early 1400s, the European slave, which involved the transportation of Africans from Africa to Portugal, arose from an already existent type of exploitation and trade. Also, the involvement of other countries like Britain, America, France, and Denmark among other nations in the 1600s led to the increase in the volume of the slave the trade (Bang, 2016).

Unlike the early periods when victims of trafficking were mostly men, varied groups and genders are currently becoming victims of trafficking. Over the past years, much attention has been given to the implementation of policies that may combat human trafficking and modern-day slavery. This paper outlines the various events that have seen the ratification of anti-human policies to address the modern day slavery.

Important Timelines

The need to combat human trafficking led to the formulation of immigration reforms and legislation. The timelines listed below show some of the milestones by governments, companies, and civil society to combine their efforts towards implementation of anti-human trafficking policies across the nations. Although not much has been achieved to eradicate the issue of trafficking and modern slavery, the activities in the timelines not only show the efforts by concerned the parties so far but also displays the importance of combined effort in fighting human trafficking, forced labor, and sexual exploitation across all nations (Konrad, Trapp, Palmbach & Blom, 2017). The following are some of the immigration legislation enforcement trends and events.

UN Protocol of 2000

The United Nations passed a protocol to address the human trafficking and other transitional and organized crimes. The aim was to suppress, prevent, and punish the offenders. It acted as the first treaty that brought together all nations (Bang, 2016). Moreover, this agreement outlines a universally accepted definition of human trafficking. In 2004, the UN appointed a special rapporteur to spearhead the fight against human trafficking. U.S government, on the other hand, formulated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 which aimed at combating sex trade and involuntary servitude (Farrell & Pfeffer, 2014).

ECOWAS Agreement 2001

In the year 2001, all member countries of Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) agreed and came up with an action plan that would be implemented to combat the growing problem of human trafficking and other forms of slavery in the region (Linnhoff, Martin, Smith & Smith, 2014). During the same year, the U.S government through Department of States took an international stand on the issue of human trafficking. The department aimed at providing the tools and help in coordination of anti-trafficking activities internationally.

Anti-Child Labor Initiative 2002

Members of the cocoa industry came together to jointly tackle the issue of child labor within the supply chain. This move led the formation of International Cocoa Initiative which led chocolate companies and anti-slavery groups in eliminating child labor in the cocoa industry. Moreover, Brazil launched its fight against child labor in 2004. It incorporated companies, civil societies and the government in committing to the prevention of child labor and slavery within the supply chains. Moreover, U.K the Sexual Offences Act of 2003 to address the issues of sexual assault, exploitation, and prostitution.

The International Labor Organization Report 2005

The International Labor Organization, ILO provided a report on the global status of human trafficking and forced labor as per the year 2005. Based on findings, around 12.3 million people engaged in forced labor as slaves. However, the number rose to 20.9 million slaves 2012.

Transparency in Supply Chain Act 2011

In order to respond to the increasing cases of forced and child labor around the world, California formulated the Transparency in Supply Chain Act of 2011 to ensure that all companies publicly disclosed the efforts they put in place to eradicate forced labor and human trafficking within their supply chains.

Modern Slavery Act 2015

Britain commenced the implementation of the Modern Slavery Act in 2015. The act ratified the number of years for the jail term to offenders of slavery and human trafficking. Some of the changes were the increment of the prison term from 14 years to maximum. Moreover, it permitted the authorities to seize all the assets belonging to traffickers (Farrell & Pfeffer, 2014). Businesses were also compelled to disclose their stand on the fight against slavery and human trafficking within their supply chains. The United Nations, on the other hand, included the subject of slavery and human trafficking in the Sustainable Development Goals. It showed their increased commitment in ending human trafficking among the member countries.


Depending on the intentions of traffickers and their target population, different age groups and genders fall victims. For instance, young girls have been trafficked for sexual exploitation while young men fall victims of free or cheap labor. Adoption of anti-trafficking policies is very vital for the eradication of the vice in the society. However, governments and civil societies need to incorporate victim-centered approaches in combating the crime.

Based on the above timelines, it is evident that a lot of efforts have been directed to the formulation of policies while implementation remains a challenge. As a result, the number of trafficking and slavery victims is constantly increasing. Other critical areas like public awareness and victim assistance must be adopted as part of the policy implementation to help realize better results from the initiatives (Bang, 2016). For example, initiatives like the Blue Campaign will help members of the public detect the cases of trafficking and report to the relevant authorities.

Through regional and international collaborations, human trafficking can be eliminated. It is because the proper implementation of anti-human trafficking policies requires governments, non-governmental organizations, and private sector organizations to adopt a collaborative approach to fight the vice.


Over the years, human trafficking has been considered to be a hidden and complex act. The implementation of the various anti-trafficking policies has been curtailed by the limited information available to the public. While the formulation of various acts by governments and civil society organizations have not completely eradicated the act, the new approaches put in place to address the modern slavery and human trafficking will eliminate the crime. As the anti-trafficking policies face a lot of ratifications, the issue of public awareness, data collection, and research on the issue will help combat the act. Moreover, the need for policymakers to focus on the areas of potential victims, collaboration, and coordination, public awareness on the issue of human trafficking.


Bang, N. J. (2016). Prosecuting Human Traffickers by Mobilizing Human Rights Defenders as Victims’ Advocates. Wash. U. Global Stud. L. Rev., 15, 1.

Farrell, A., & Pfeffer, R. (2014). Policing human trafficking: Cultural blinders and organizational barriers. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 653(1), 46-64.

Konrad, R. A., Trapp, A. C., Palmbach, T. M., & Blom, J. S. (2017). Overcoming human trafficking via operations research and analytics: Opportunities for methods, models, and applications. European Journal of Operational Research, 259(2), 733-745.

Linnhoff, S., Martin, H. M., Smith, K. T., & Smith, L. M. (2014). A descriptive analysis of ethics codes, CSR and efforts to combat human trafficking. International Journal of Corporate Governance, 5(3/4), 156-177.

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