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The Additional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, aimed at preventing, suppressing, and punishing trafficking in persons, especially women and children, provides the first internationally recognized definition of human trafficking and demonstrates the international community’s commitment to combat this crime. Indeed, Article 3(a) of the Protocol states that “The term ‘trafficking in persons’ shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of 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 labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, or the removal of organs.”

The offense of human trafficking thus comprises three elements: an act, one or more means, and a purpose: exploitation.

The Protocol further requires States parties to:

  • Enact national laws that criminalize trafficking;
  • Prevent and combat trafficking;
  • Protect and assist victims of trafficking;
  • Cooperate with other States to achieve these objectives.

Key normative instruments related to human trafficking*:

Conventions and protocols:

Other relevant instruments:

We also invite you to consult the work of the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons.

*It is important to note that this list is not exhaustive, and other United Nations instruments may also contribute to the fight against these crimes.

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