European Network Against Trafficking in Human Beings

New publication

Engaging the private sector to end human trafficking: A resource guide for NGOs

Document number
Engaging the private sector to end human trafficking: A resource guide for NGOs
La Strada International and SOMO
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Document type(s)
Guidelines/Recommendations, Research/Study/Analysis,
human trafficking, human rights, exploitation, abuse, business, supply chains
Anti-trafficking non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and networks have so far not focused much on engaging the private sector on its role in trafficking in human beings (THB). Because the legal definition of human trafficking has historically been restricted to exploitation in the sex industry, anti-trafficking action has, until recently, been largely tackled and framed in the context of women’s rights, debates on sex work and within criminal law. This changed in 2000 when the UN Palermo Protocol extended the definition of human trafficking to include all forms of forced labour and slavery-like practices in all economic sectors. This has made labour law and relevant stakeholders such as trade unions central to this issue, and has merged debates on human trafficking and forced labour. The EU Anti-trafficking Directive from 2011 reaffirmed this.

In the framework of the NGOs & Co project, LSI carried out a survey in 2013, among 27 European anti-trafficking NGOs, including LSI members, assessing their overall level of engagement with the private sector, as well as the perceived obstacles, enablers and lessons learned in partnering with businesses. This assessment revealed that, although 80% of the respondent NGOs have experience in targeting the private sector and claim to see the private sector as one of their key target groups, less than half of the participants in the survey recognised the importance of such work in their Strategic Plans, and only 11% (3 out of 27 organisations) have a specific staff person dedicated to engaging with the private sector. In short, there is little capacity for engagement or indeed knowledge of the different strategies of private sector engagement applied in other civil society networks.

This Resource Guide aims to close that gap by providing guidance and background information for anti-trafficking NGOs in Europe on the role of the private sector in trafficking in human beings. It provides facts and figures on human trafficking and forced labour in Europe, an explanation of the overlaps and differences in the legal definitions of human trafficking and forced labour, as well as numerous case studies on human trafficking and forced labour in Europe throughout the text. It also provides some strategic guidance on whether and how anti-trafficking organisations can best engage with the private sector, if they choose to involve this new stakeholder in their work.