Human Trafficking

TraCCC Publications on Human Trafficking
External Resources on Human Trafficking
TraCCC Initiatives on Human Trafficking
Links to Internet Resources on Human Trafficking

Topical Overview

“Trafficking (of humans) helps perpetuate systemic government corruption. It helps fund the expansion of other organized crime activities as traffickers are often also engaged in trafficking arms and drugs. The quick and continuous profits made from trafficking also permit the criminal organizations”

Dr. Louise I. Shelley, Testimony before the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission), June 28, 1999.


Trafficking in persons is a transnational crime with global implications. In order to combat trafficking and bring its perpetrators to justice, all nations must recognize that trafficking is a serious criminal offense. Politicians and law enforcement officials in all countries must give priority to the investigation and prosecution of trafficking in persons offenses, assign appropriate punishment to those found guilty, and protecting the victims of such offenses. All transit, receiving, and supply countries must cooperate in the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of human trafficking phenomena and offenses. Because the United States is a key destination country for trafficked victims, it has a special role to play in combating the problem and setting an example for other countries to follow.

Trafficking affects virtually every country in the world. The largest numbers of victims come from Asia, with over 225,000 victims each year from Southeast Asia and over 150,000 from South Asia. The former Soviet Union is now believed to be the largest new source of trafficking for prostitution and the sex industry, with over 100,000 women and children trafficked each year from that region. An additional 75,000 or more are trafficked from Eastern Europe. Over 100,000 victims come from Latin America and the Caribbean, and over 50,000 are from Africa. Most of the victims are sent to Asia, the Middle East, Western Europe and North America. The U.S. Department of State has estimated that at any given time, there are hundreds of thousands of people in the trafficking pipeline, being warehoused by traffickers, waiting for new routes to open up or documents to become available — and their primary targets include the United States, the European Union, and Canada.

In October 2000, the U.S. government voted into law “The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000.” The purpose of the statute is to combat trafficking in persons and assist its victims. The strategy for addressing trafficking is governed by three principles: first, prevention of trafficking; second, protection and support for victims; and third, prosecution of the traffickers.

See also United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (PDF document).

TraCCC Initiatives – Trafficking in Persons

TraCCC’s focus on trafficking in persons remains geared toward quantifying the political, social and economic costs of trafficking and examining how this activity is related to transnational organized crime groups. TraCCC and its overseas centers have performed numerous studies and prepared training materials and course curricula on the criminal phenomena of human trafficking and alien smuggling.

Our goal is to translate both our research and the works in the broader academic universe into praxis for policymakers and practitioners globally. TraCCC continues active collaboration with law enforcement, prosecutors, investigators, and legislators in the US and overseas, many of whom have participated in TraCCC’s seminars.

TraCCC has designed and conducted seminars for prosecutors and investigators from many countries of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and published training handbooks in English, Russian, Moldovan and Georgian languages. Our training curricula are based on research by carefully selected analysts from Europe and Eurasia, including criminologists, demographers, sociologists, and criminal law experts and practitioners. Topics covered in the training materials include the role of organized crime, document fraud, child trafficking and exploitation, victim assistance, anti-trafficking legislation, prosecutorial approaches, investigative techniques and money laundering as it relates to this crime.

In May 2002, TraCCC and UNICRI hosted a conference in Turin, Italy entitled “Trafficking, Slavery and Peacekeeping: The Balkan Case.” The conclusion of the expert group that TraCCC and UNICRI assembled has led to a proposed program to create a comprehensive catalog and distribution node for training to combat trafficking in persons in any region of the world. The Conference Report can be viewed here.

In 2005, the Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC) received a grant from the U.S. Department of State to develop a human trafficking awareness training curriculum for local and regional government officials. TraCCC in partnership with its academic and NGO colleagues in four regions of Russia have created a training manual based on actual trafficking cases in the Russian Federation and relevant Articles in the Russian Criminal Code. This manual was utilized in trainings for representatives of the local government, NGO and academic communities that were held in the cities of Saratov, Irkutsk, Vladivostok and Moscow.

Throughout 2007, TraCCC focused largely at human trafficking in Russia working with its Russian centers and creating events on the topic. TraCCC, in partnership with the Chelyabinsk NGO, Women’s Commonwealth, hosted an anti-trafficking training for local and regional law enforcement and NGO officials at the South Ural State University in Chelyabinsk, Russia on March 16-17. This training was one of ten trainings being implemented by TraCCC across Russia in early 2007 as part of a US State Department sponsored anti-trafficking program.  In October, TraCCC organized an event entitled “Combating Modern-Day Slavery in Russia”, featuring four visiting Russian law enforcement officials and academics who work on various aspects of addressing Russia’s human trafficking problems and assisting its victims.

In 2009, TraCCC expanded on cross-cultural learning about human trafficking through the Open World Program and World Vision International. TraCCC partnered up with World Vision International to give opportunities for Master level students in Dr. Louise Shelley’s courses at George Mason University’s School of Public Policy to research and assess the topics of human trafficking and child exploitation first-handedly throughout Eastern Europe and Russia. Kelsey Willingham, a student under Dr. Louise Shelley,  traveled that year to Georgia to research the Vulnerabilities to Trafficking within IDP Populations.  In October of 2009, TraCCC presented a panel of six distinguished anti-trafficking professionals and victims’ assistance providers from Ukraine to discuss “The Face of Human Trafficking in Ukraine: Assisting Victims and Diverting At-Risk Groups” as part of its Open World Leadership Program.

TraCCC continued its initiatives on human trafficking in 2010 through hosting events and the publication of Dr. Louise Shelley’s Book, Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective. In July, TraCCC hosted a conference entitled, “Human Insecurity in West Africa: Irregular and Forced Migration, Drugs, and Arms and Human Trafficking.” The conference addressed many of the major challenges that West Africa faces including irregular/ cladestine migration, forced migration as a result of climate change and conflict, sexual and labor trafficking and the drugs and arms trade. In October of the same year, TraCCC in coordination with DC Stop Modern Slavery hosted film director, Guy Jacobson, to discuss and show his documentary, “REDLIGHT.” UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lucy Liu produced and narrated REDLIGHT, an inspiring and powerful feature documentary about child sexploitation. Filmed over a four year period, REDLIGHT focuses on the personal stories of the victims and two remarkable advocates for change: grass-roots activist Somaly Mam and politician Mu Sochua.

Dr. Louise Shelley made headway in 2011 as a guest speaker to two international conferences, and co-editing a new edition of the TraCCC’s Routledge Series, Human Security, Transnational Crime, and Human Trafficking: Asian and Western Perspective, which contrasts the experience and perception of transnational crime and human trafficking in Asia with that in the West. In February, Louise traveled to Iceland to be a keynote speaker at the Biannual Gender Equality Forum held in Reykjavik. In May, Louise spoke at the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) in Stuttgart, Germany about human trafficking becoming a defining issue of the 21st century.