Beyond a Snapshot: Preventing Human Trafficking in the Global Economy

Janie Chuang, American University Washington College of Law


Current legal responses to the problem of human trafficking often reflect a deep reluctance to address the socio-economic root causes of the problem. Because they approach trafficking as an act (or series of acts) of violence, most responses focus predominantly on prosecuting traffickers, and to a lesser extent, protecting trafficked persons. While such approaches might account for the consequences of trafficking, they tend to overlook the broader socioeconomic reality that drives trafficking in human beings. Against this backdrop, this article seeks to reframe trafficking as a migratory response to current globalizing socioeconomic trends. It argues that, to be effective, counter-trafficking strategies must target the underlying conditions that impel people to accept dangerous labor migration assignments. The article recommends that existing counter-trafficking strategies be assessed with a view to assessing their potential for long-term effectiveness. It also advocates strategic use of the non-discrimination principle to promote basic economic, social, and cultural rights, the deprivation of which has sustained the trafficking phenomenon.