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44 Harv. Int'l L.J. 473 (2003)
Beyond Consent, toward Safeguarding Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations Trafficking Protocol

handle is hein.journals/hilj44 and id is 479 raw text is: VOLUME 44, NUMBER 2, SUMMER 2003

Beyond Consent, Toward Safeguarding
Human Rights: Implementing the
United Nations Trafficking Protocol
Kara Abramson*
INTRODUCTION
In November 2000, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Protocol to
Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and
Children (the Trafficking Protocol).' A supplement to the U.N. Convention
Against Transnational Organized Crime, the Trafficking Protocol is the first
international instrument of its kind since the 1949 Convention for the Sup-
pression of the Traffic in Persons and Exploitation of the Prostitution of
Others. The Trafficking Protocol results from growing concern over the se-
curity issues and the human rights dimensions of the movement of people
both across and within national borders.2 This Note will focus on the human
rights dimensions of the Trafficking Protocol.
Despite consensus that trafficking in persons is an appropriate subject of
international law, participants in anti-trafficking efforts have been deeply
divided both in defining and addressing the problem. Most definitions in-
volve border crossing and some element of coercion, but even those two
features are sometimes contested in battles that hide political, legal, and philo-
sophical differences. Law enforcement personnel may see the problem as pri-
marily one of organized crime involving illegal immigration and labor; anti-
prostitution activists distinguish between trafficking for the sex industry
and for other purposes; and some women's groups focus on exploitation irre-
* J.D. Candidate, Harvard Law School, 2003.
1. PROTOCOL TO PREVENT, SUPPRESS AND PUNISH TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS, ESPECIALLY WOMEN
AND CHILDREN, SUPPLEMENTING THE UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION AGAINST TRANSNATIONAL
ORGANIZED CRIME, Annex II, art. 3(a), Dec. 12, 2000, G.A. Res. 55/25, U.N. Doc. A/55/383 (2000)
[hereinafter TRAFFICKING PROTOCOL]. The Trafficking Protocol was open for signature between Decem-
ber 2000 and December 2002. As of January 2003, there were 117 signatories and 23 parties to the
Trafficking Protocol, which has not yet entered into force.
2. The canon of human rights instruments demands the end of many practices linked to human
trafficking, including slavery and servitude, forced labor, and deprivation of life, liberty, and security of
person. The CONVENTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN,
art. 6, Dec. 18, 1979, 1249 U.N.T.S. 13 (entered into force Sept. 3, 1981) [hereinafter CEDAW],
specifically singles out trafficking as a target of international law, ordering state parties to take all ap-
propriate measures ... to suppress all forms of traffic in women. Principles of state sovereignty also
underscore the mandate to eliminate the practice. See INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND PO-
LITICAL RIGHTS, art. 6(l), 8(1), 8(2), 8(3)(a), 9(0), Dec. 16, 1966, 999 U.N.TS. 171 (entered into force
Mar. 23, 1976) [hereinafter ICCPR].

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