Human Trafficking: A Best Practices Study on How Corporations Can Help
Trafficking in persons remains one of the worst and most prevalent international crimes perpetrated by a vast and complex network of private organizations and persons working across the globe. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes documents the global phenomenon of trafficking of persons from 127 countries to be exploited in 137 countries. The International Labor Organization estimates that at any given time, the number of people in forced labor as a result of trafficking is 2.5 million.
Persons are trafficked into sexual slavery or compulsory labor, the majority of its victims being the most vulnerable: poor women and children. The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime containing the “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children,” was ratified by a majority of UN Member States. Despite wide support by States to eradicate trafficking, core challenges remain, such as local law enforcement investigation, prosecution and punishment of traffickers. A major issue in combating sex trafficking is the profitable nature of the practice, as financial profits of the traffickers remain very high. The International Organization on Migration estimated that in 2005, trafficking in women and girls, solely for the purposes of sexual slavery, earned traffickers $16 billion per year. The role that organized criminal groups plays in human trafficking is widely acknowledged.
Corporations have a large role to play in reducing social ills as key players in the global economy. Multinationals themselves can exert pressure on their local suppliers and subcontractors to ensure higher standards in the supply chain. An example of a best practice is LexisNexis, a provider of business solutions and software for legal, education and government. As part of their Corporate Responsibility and the Rule of Law commitment, LexisNexis has made it a priority to combat human trafficking by giving direct financial support and legal and technical advice to two organizations working on this issue. The first organization is the Somaly Mam Foundation based in Cambodia. The founder, Somaly Mam, was herself a victim of child sex slavery but has made it her life mission to fight against human trafficking. The Somaly Mam Foundation combats sexual slavery by funding AFESIP and other NGOs that work at the grass-roots level to rescue victims from brothels and offer them shelter, safety, counseling, education, vocational skills, and assistance transitioning back into society. By providing direct financial support, LexisNexis makes a commitment to fund organizations that work in the field. On the legal side, LexisNexis provides legal assistance and support to those international lawyers bringing cases domestically and internationally. When States’ actions are too slow to respond, economic and corporate actors are often better situated to make an immediate and direct impact.
 Human Trafficking: An Overview, United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, United Nations Office on Crime and Drugs (2008).
- California’s Call to go “Conflict-Free”
April 7th, 2011
- Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights from the United Nations
January 3rd, 2011
- President Obama Proclaims Human Rights Day, Bill of Rights Day and Human Rights Week
December 10th, 2010
- Ruggie Releases Draft Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
December 6th, 2010
- Promoting Corporate Citizenship by Crowdsourcing Market Power
November 29th, 2010
- Political Advertising and Corporate Responsibility: A Call for Shareholder Action
November 8th, 2010