Trafficking: Modern Day Slavery

A BLOG POST BY BARONESS GOUDIEHuman trafficking june 10

In 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act marked the end to legal slavery across the British Empire. Today however, modern slavery still exists: the human trafficking industry is estimated to be worth £32 billion per year, putting it on par with the global drugs trade.

Today people around the world are sold and held against their will to work in the sex trade, domestic servitude and via labour exploitation in agriculture, sports events and manufacturing.

The documentary ‘Not My Life,’ recently aired on CNN as part of its commendable Freedom Project put pictures and stories to the human tragedy of trafficking. In the film we learn about the thriving sex trade in Southeast Asia where girls as young as eight are forced into working in brothels to serve a steady stream of visitors; young boys are sold for labour and forced to beg in the streets of Africa; and in the USA, we hear about domestic help with no rights or pay, and the tragic depiction of 10-year old girls being prostituted and raped in USA truck stops.

I attended a preview of the film and after the screening, the director Robert Bilheimer spoke of a conversation he had with Kofi Annan about the horrors of trafficking and how he could continue to help to eradicate it. Annan said, ‘do what YOU can do.’  It’s a powerful message. What can each of us do within the context of our own worlds? For me, I’m fortunate to be working at a global level and hope to influence through my blog, presentations and networks.

LexisNexis, sponsor of the premiere of film Not My Life and a global advocate for human rights, recently launched a book called ‘The Human Trafficking Handbook’, edited by award winning human rights barrister Parosha Chandran.  It can be found at www.lexisnexis.co.uk/humantrafficking.

UN Goodwill Ambassador and actress Mira Sorvino also spoke at the event. She is a tireless advocate in her role with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.  Last year, she was recognized by the UN Correspondents Association for her efforts on the issue of human trafficking.  She has talked with victims, consulted with Member States to implement the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Human Trafficking and worked to improved laws across the USA, among many activities.

If you run a business, this article by Oliver Balch outlines how companies should assess their global procurement systems to ensure that there is no labour exploitation in their supply chains.

If you are in the UK and interested in learning further about how to help the child victims of trafficking, the child rights organisation ECPAT recently launched guidelines for the UK to adopt a system of guardianship to provide the legal foundation to support victims in our country. The recommendations were launched at Anti-Slavery Day 2011 and are outlined in a document called ‘Watch over me: a system of guardianship.’
There are many ways to help and many organisations working to stop the horrific trade of trafficking. Our collective voices can drive action and change. We all must each do what we can do.

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Women, Peace and Security – UN Security Council Resolution 1325

Women, Peace and Security 


UN Security Council Resolution 1325 was the first of its kind to specifically address the unique impact of conflict on women, and women’s important contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace. Passed in 2000, it marked a watershed moment when the international community formally recognized the integral role of women and gender to peace and security. UNSCR 1325 has remained an essential tool for encouraging governments to fulfill their obligations to ensure women are included as agents for peace and security in all processes, and its framework has inspired further action by the UN and civil societies and governments around the world to mainstream gender into their work on conflict resolution.


Following UNSCR 1325, subsequent Security Council Resolutions further defined the importance of women’s roles in conflict and peacebuilding. Resolutions 1820, passed in 2008, and 1888, passed in 2009,  recognize sexual violence as an issue of international peace and security and reiterate the need for a comprehensive response to sexual and gender-based violence. In 2010, Resolution 1960 created specific steps needed for the prevention of sexual violence, and Resolution 2106 in 2013 looked specifically at accountability for crimes of sexual violence. The most recent resolution on women, peace and security, UNSCR 2122, aims to strengthen measures to improve the participation of women in all phases of conflict resolution and prevention.


UNSCR 1325 and successive Resolutions are an important show of international support that ensure women, peace and security are on the agenda for international organizations and governments across the globe, but there are many steps between the passage of such resolutions and their full implementation on the ground.  One tool that helps bridge this gap are National Action Plans(NAPs), written plans that specify how a country will mainstream gender, and the principles of 1325 into its defense, development and diplomatic activities. Over 36 countries in the world have drafted NAPs, and that number is growing every year.


In addition to government- and UN-level documents and programs, it is important to consider the work women do in more informal, Track II diplomatic and peace negotiations. Around the world, women are active as civil society leaders, and in many cases, such as Liberia, Northern Ireland and the Philippines, their grassroots work has played a major role in peace processes.


For more resources on women, peace and security, visit The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and SecurityPeaceWomenUSIP, and The Institute for Inclusive Security.

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