UNODC Releases 2020 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons

2 February 2021
Research Innovation

Alice Eckstein  | Project Director - Delta 8.7

On 2 February 2021, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released their fifth global report on trafficking in persons. The new report, drawing on data from 148 States, comes at a moment in which short- and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to increase socio-economic vulnerabilities to trafficking as well as complicate counter-trafficking efforts.

Among others, some broad findings from the report include:

  • The continued disproportionate numbers of women and girls who experience trafficking: of every 10 victims of trafficking, five are adult women and two are girls.
  • There is a strong likelihood that the rise of unemployment even in wealthier States will result in increased incidence of trafficking in persons, concentrated among the most vulnerable populations situated there.
  • As wealthier nations recover from the pandemic more rapidly, flows of trafficking in persons from lower-income countries to wealthier countries is likely to increase.
  • Online trafficking demonstrates the adaptability of traffickers’ recruitment strategies, and this complicates detection and enforcement across overlapping online and offline jurisdictions.

The report generated a number of recommendations for anti-trafficking policy actors, among which were:

  • Create multi-disciplinary, specialized anti-trafficking agencies at the State level.
  • Engage the private sector to apply due diligence to supply chains and promote labour standards.
  • Justice systems should individuals who have been trafficked as victims rather than prosecuting any crimes they may have committed as part of their trafficking experience.
  • States should strengthen implementation of the protections included in the UN Protocol for Trafficking in Persons (Palermo Protocol) and should offer more resources to civil society organizations protecting victims of trafficking as part of their response to COVID-19.
  • The reduction of vulnerability may be the single most effective measure to prevent trafficking in persons, and UN Member States should actively incorporate social protection into their anti-trafficking strategies.
  • Promote a data-based approach to anti-trafficking policy by strengthening research and data collection. One important initial action is to disaggregate data collection within States by sex, as well as by citizenship and form of exploitation.

The full report, including country-specific data, is available here.

This article has been prepared by Alice Eckstein as a contributor to Delta 8.7. As provided for in the Terms and Conditions of Use of Delta 8.7, the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of UNU or its partners.

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