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Human trafficking and migrant smuggling  

Last Updated: May 29, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
Human trafficking and migrant smuggling Print Page

UNODC on human trafficking and migrant smuggling

Human trafficking is the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them.

Smuggling of migrants involves the procurement for financial or other material benefit of illegal entry of a person into a State of which that person is not a national or resident.

The challenge for all countries, rich and poor, is to target the criminals who exploit desperate people and to protect and assist victims of trafficking and smuggled migrants, many of whom endure unimaginable hardships in their bid for a better life.

UNODC focuses on the criminal justice element of these crimes.

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Key Documents

As the only United Nations entity focusing on the criminal justice element of these crimes, the work that UNODC does to combat human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants is underpinned by the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols on trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling.

UNODC’s Comprehensive Strategy to Combat Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants


Human Trafficking Case Law Database

UNODC has developed an online database to collect and disseminate information on human trafficking prosecutions and convictions.This case law database intends to enable judges, prosecutors, policy-makers, media, researchers and other interested parties to take court decisions relating to these instruments into account when dealing with human trafficking issues, to promote the uniform interpretation and application of these instruments, to consult on practices in different jurisdictions, and to broaden knowledge on human trafficking crimes as well as the realities faced by ordinary people victimized by those who would buy, sell, and exploit them.


UN Blue Heart Campaign

UNODC, as guardian of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the Protocols thereto, assists States in their efforts to implement the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons (Trafficking in Persons Protocol). 

The Blue Heart Campaign against human trafficking:

  • Is an awareness raising initiative to fight human trafficking and its impact on society.
  • Seeks to encourage involvement and inspire action to help stop this crime.
  • Allows people to show solidarity with the victims of human trafficking by wearing the Blue Heart.

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Cover Art
Irregular Migration, Trafficking, and Smuggling of Human Beings - Sergio Carrera (Editor); Elspeth Guild (Editor)
Call Number: 314.154 C377
ISBN: 9789461385048
Publication Date: 2016-07-12
The expert contributors to this edited volume, representing a multidisciplinary selection of academics, examine the treatment of irregular migration, human trafficking, and smuggling in EU law and policy. The various chapters explore the policy dilemmas encountered in efforts to criminalize irregular migration and humanitarian assistance to irregular immigrants. The book aims to provide academic input to informed policy-making in the next phase of the European Agenda on Migration.

Cover Art
The International Law of Migrant Smuggling - Anne T. Gallagher; Fiona David
ISBN: 9781107015920
Publication Date: 2014-07-21
Whether forced into relocation by fear of persecution, civil war, or humanitarian crisis, or pulled toward the prospect of better economic opportunities, more people are on the move than ever before. Opportunities for lawful entry into preferred destinations are decreasing rapidly, creating demand that is increasingly being met by migrant smugglers. This companion volume to the award-winning The International Law of Human Trafficking, presents the first-ever comprehensive, in-depth analysis into the subject.

Cover Art
Human Security, Transnational Crime and Human Trafficking - Shiro Okubo (Editor); Louise Shelley (Editor)
ISBN: 9780415437011
Publication Date: 2011-03-11
Important changes have occurred in transnational crime and human trafficking during recent years. These phenomena have become much more global in comparison to the regional level on which they once operated. Europe, North America and Asia are now fully integrated into the international problems of organized crime and human trafficking.
Examining transnational crime, human trafficking and its implications for human security from both Western and Asian perspectives, this book, with essays from contributors based in Europe, the US and Asia fills a gap on all bookshelves; providing an excellent volume on the under considered area of Asian transnational crime.

Cover Art
Human Trafficking, Smuggling and Illegal Immigration - M. Coen (Editor)  Icon
ISBN: 9781607507239
Publication Date: 2011-05-15
International Management by Criminal Organiza. Organized crime is not in retreat. Quite the reverse it is spreading far and wide, and contrary to popular belief, it is much more damaging than terrorist activity. The success of any initiative to combat the wide-ranging effects of organized crime depen

Cover Art
The International Law of Human Trafficking - Anne T. Gallagher
ISBN: 9780521191074
Publication Date: 2010-09-30
Although human trafficking has a long and ignoble history, it is only recently that trafficking has become a major political issue for states and the international community and the subject of detailed international rules. This book presents the first-ever comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the international law of human trafficking. Anne T. Gallagher calls on her direct experience working within the United Nations to chart the development of new international laws on this issue. She links these rules to the international law of state responsibility as well as key norms of international human rights law, transnational criminal law, refugee law, and international criminal law, in the process identifying and explaining the major legal obligations of states with respect to preventing trafficking, protecting and supporting victims, and prosecuting perpetrators.

Cover Art
The Control of People Smuggling and Trafficking in the EU - Matilde Ventrella  Icon
ISBN: 9780754674665
Publication Date: 2010-09-28
This book examines the smuggling of migrants and trafficking of human beings in the EU with a comparative analysis of how British and Italian law has approached the issues. It will be a valuable resource for academics and students working in the areas of migration, refugee, criminal justice and EU law as well as policy-makers and practitioners working with refugee and immigration issues.

Cover Art
Measuring Human Trafficking - Ernesto U. Savona (Editor); Sonia Stefanizzi (Editor)
ISBN: 9780387680422
Publication Date: 2007-06-18
The trafficking of human beings is a major worldwide problem. This book addresses the need for a system that provides the same set of quantitative and qualitative data to help develop a comprehensive counter-strategy. It analyzes various definitions as well as the complexity of phenomena that impair the collection and comparability of data.


  • Anti-Trafficking Review
    This Open Access journal promotes a human rights-based approach to anti-trafficking. It explores trafficking in its broader context including gender analyses and intersections with labour and migrant rights.
  • Crime, Law and Social Change  Icon
    Crime, Law and Social Change is a peer reviewed journal. It publishes essays and reviews on topics such as financial crime, political corruption, and environmental crime.
  • International Migration  Icon
    Original articles on current migration issues and reviews and analysis of migration trends and issues as analyzed by demographers, economists and sociologists all over the world.
  • Trends in Organized Crime  Icon
    Trends in Organized Crime presents a composite of analyses and syntheses of research on organized crime, drawn from a variety of sources. It publishes peer-reviewed, original research articles and excerpts from significant governmental reports. The contents also include reviews of important new books and presents analysis and commentary on current issues in organized crime.

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This guide is intended to provide delegates and UN Secretariat Staff with selected content from both UN and non-UN sources on the topic. It references third-party web sites, books and articles. It does not imply the endorsement of the content by the United Nations.


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