Human trafficking is a global issue that continues to plague societies around the world. Human trafficking involves the uprooting of people from their homelands to use them for sex slavery, slave labor, organ removal, and other criminal purposes. Intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have significant roles in addressing this global issue. IGO and NGO relationships influence the effectiveness of efforts addressing challenges in global issues. The United Nations (an IGO) and Human Rights Watch (an NGO) are two of the most notable organizations working to address human trafficking. Through the combined effort of the United Nations and Human Rights Watch, countries have increased their measures to address the human trafficking global issue.
This article discusses the roles and relationships of IGOs like the United Nations and NGOs like Human Rights Watch in addressing challenges in the global issue of human trafficking.
Relationship between IGOs and NGOs in Addressing Human Trafficking
The United Nations is an intergovernmental organization (IGO) in the right position to address the issue of human trafficking. The UN addresses human trafficking via the Palermo Convention, which includes provisions for the prevention, suppression and punishment of human trafficking and smuggling. The United Nations is the most suitable IGO for this global issue because human trafficking has significant legal bearing on communities and societies. The UN has the right governmental mechanism and political strength to influence member countries to implement laws and policies for the prevention, suppression and punishment of human trafficking.
Human Rights Watch is a nongovernmental organization (NGO) also in the right position to address the issue of human trafficking. This NGO functions via its numerous offices and programs to protect the rights of people. Human Rights Watch is suited to address the issue of human trafficking because it has the right programs and international connections.
The United Nations and Human Rights Watch work together in many cases of human trafficking. For example, Human Rights Watch has made public demands on the government of Ivory Coast to sign and implement the UN Trafficking Protocol. The UN Trafficking Protocol, combined with Ivory Coast’s domestic laws, can effectively address the problem of human trafficking in the country.
NGOs provide social motivation and political pressure to move governments to take actions and regulations to address global issues. IGOs provide the political and legal backbone for the actions and programs of NGOs.
Challenges to Addressing Global Issues
The United Nations and Human Rights Watch face potential challenges in addressing the global issue of human trafficking in countries like Ivory Coast. These challenges include the following:
- Extensive scope of human trafficking
- Difficulties in identifying human trafficking victims
- Possible involvement of public officials in human trafficking
In terms of impact on operations of IGOs and NGOs, the extensive scope of human trafficking comes first, with the difficulties in identification of victims second, and the possible involvement of public officials in human trafficking third.
The extensive scope of human trafficking has the highest rank in impacting the operations of the United Nations and Human Rights Watch. More extensive global issues are more difficult to address. For example, the wide global scope of human trafficking requires more resources and international cooperation to address the issue.
The difficulties in victim identification have the second or middle rank. Identification is difficult because of lack of documents and inadequate communication channels. IGOs like the United Nations, and NGOs like Human Rights Watch encounter difficulties in properly identifying victims of human trafficking.
The possible involvement of public officials has the lowest rank. Still, this factor is important because public officials could make it difficult to directly address human trafficking. Local governments sometimes become unresponsive or uncooperative with NGOs and IGOs because the local public officials might intentionally block actions to address human trafficking.
IGO and NGO Strategies for Addressing Human Trafficking
One strategy that the United Nations could use is to impose sanctions on member countries. For example, the UN could compel member countries to impose a ban on imports coming from Ivory Coast until Ivory Coast cooperates with the UN to address human trafficking. One strategy that Human Rights Watch could use is social mobilization. This strategy could compel governments to address the global issue of human trafficking. Social movements can be very effective in addressing social issues and problems like human trafficking.
- Brysk, A., & Choi-Fitzpatrick, A. (Eds.). (2012). From human trafficking to human rights: Reframing contemporary slavery. University of Pennsylvania Press.
- Clawson, H., & Dutch, N. (2008). Identifying Victims of Human Trafficking. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
- Heupel, M. (2013). With power comes responsibility: Human rights protection in United Nations sanctions policy. European Journal of International Relations,19(4), 773-796.
- Human Rights Watch (2010). Côte d’Ivoire/Nigeria: Combat Trafficking for Prostitution.
- Polaris Project (2015). Human Trafficking.
- Smith, K. T., Martin, H. M., & Smith, L. M. (2014). Human trafficking: a global multi-billion dollar criminal industry. International Journal of Public Law and Policy, 4(3), 293-308.
- Todres, J. (2013). Human Rights, Labor, and the Prevention of Human Trafficking: A Response to A Labor Paradigm for Human Trafficking. UCLA L. Rev. Disc., 60, 142-248.
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2015). Human Trafficking.
- Weiss, T. G. (2012). What’s Wrong with the United Nations and how to Fix it. Polity.