The Private Sector’s Pivotal Role in Combating Human Trafficking by Jonathan Todres
The attached article explores the ways in which the private sector can help address trafficking
and exploitation of persons, including children. It examines how the private sector’s (1) position
in relation to streams of commerce, (2) focus on innovation, and (3) access to resources, position
it as a potentially valuable partner in combating trafficking and exploitation of human beings.
The article examines each of these three key features of the private sector. It does not suggest
that other entities are devoid of these traits (non-governmental organizations can and do
innovate, for example). Rather, it argues that these features are core characteristics of private
sector entities, and the fact that businesses possess all three traits simultaneously uniquely
situates them in a way that is of significant value to anti-trafficking efforts. The research for this
article focused in particular on the trafficking and exploitation of children.
This research finds that the private sector can play a particularly important role in advancing
efforts to prevent such exploitation of children. Law enforcement and social services engaged in
combating child trafficking and exploitation frequently encounter the problem after the harm has
occurred. The private sector’s unique position enables it to prevent some of these harms from
occurring in the first place.
The article also discusses legal responses to the problem. It finds that, in responding to
human rights and social justice issues, states frequently focus solely on criminal sanctions.
Criminal law is necessary but not sufficient. The article discusses ways in which states parties
can use law and policy to incentivize the private sector to take positive steps to prevent
trafficking and exploitation of children. It highlights one recent example from the State of
California that requires certain businesses to disclose their policies on, and measures undertaken
to, combat forced labor and trafficked persons in their supply chains. This new law has the
potential to provide human rights organizations, consumers, and investors with important
information about the practices of businesses that can inform not only human rights advocacy but
also purchasing and investment decisions. In summary, this article helps identify ways in which
States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols can foster
private sector engagement in protecting and ensuring children’s rights.
This article can be accessed at: http://www.californialawreview.org/assets/circuit/Todres_3-80.pdf
- Reconceptualizing Approaches to Human Trafficking: New Directions and Perspectives from the Field(s) by Kathleen Kim and Grace Chang
- The Trafficked Worker as Private Attorney General: A Model for Enforcing the Civil Rights of Undocumented Workers by Kathleen Kim
- Ensuring Human Rights Protection in Countries of Destination: Breaking the Cycle of Trafficking
- Measuring the Success of Counter-Trafficking Interventions in the Criminal Justice Sector: Who decides—and how? by Anne Gallagher and Rebecca Surtees
- Human Rights and Human Trafficking: Quagmire or Firm Ground? A Response to James Hathaway by Anne Gallagher