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United Nations: Report on Human Trafficking in Europe

(July 7, 2010) The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released a document on June 29, 2010, on the problem of human trafficking in Europe, entitled Trafficking of Persons to Europe for Sexual Exploitation. The report is one chapter of a lengthy UNODC publication entitled THE GLOBALIZATION OF CRIME — A TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME THREAT ASSESSMENT [TOC REPORT]. (Hillary Stemple, Human Trafficking a Growing Problem in Europe: UN Report, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST (June 30, 2010),; UNODC, Trafficking of Persons to Europe for Sexual Exploitation, (last visited July 6, 2010); TOC REPORT (June 2010),

Describing the dimensions of the trafficking in Europe, the human trafficking report indicates that the current volume of the market is at a minimum about 140,000 victims; and the annual value of the market is about US$3 billion per year (from sexual exploitation or forced labor). (Stemple, supra; Trafficking of Persons to Europe for Sexual Exploitation, supra.) “In recent years,” the report states, “the majority of human trafficking victims detected in Europe have come from the Balkans and the former Soviet Union, in particular Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Moldova,” with the most common Balkan-based recruitment method being the promise of employment. (Trafficking of Persons to Europe for Sexual Exploitation, supra.)

The United Nations has stated that more than 2.4 million people around the world, up to 80% of them women and girls, are currently victims of human trafficking, which includes not only the above-mentioned forms of exploitation but also domestic servitude, the removal and sale of human organs, and the exploitation of children. (Sale of People Is One of Top Illegal Businesses in Europe, UN Report Says, UN NEWS CENTRE (June 29, 2010),

The trafficking report findings were announced by the UNODC at an event marking Spain's joining the Blue Heart Campaign – the first European country to do so – against human trafficking. The purpose of the UNODC's Blue Heart Campaign is “to raise awareness of human trafficking, provide support to victims of human trafficking and persuade countries to implement the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons.” (Stemple, supra; UNODC, UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION AGAINST TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME AND THE PROTOCOLS THERETO (New York, United Nations, 2004), available at
.) Antonio Maria Costa, UNODC Executive Director, urged all European countries to join the campaign. Equating human trafficking with slavery, he stated: “Europeans believe that slavery was abolished centuries ago. But look around—slaves are in our midst. We must do more to reduce demand for slave-made products and exploitation.” (Stemple, supra.)

Other topics covered in the TOC REPORT are: smuggling of migrants, cocaine, heroin, firearms, environmental resources, counterfeit products, maritime piracy, cybercrime, and the threat to governance and stability from transnational organized crime. The report concludes that at least three major lessons can be drawn from its findings:

1. Because most trafficking flows are driven more by the market than by the groups involved in them, efforts that target these groups – the traditional law enforcement response – are unlikely to be successful on their own;

2. Because TOC markets are global in scale, global strategies are required to address them, and anything else is likely to produce unwanted side effects, often in the most vulnerable countries; [and]

3. Because globalized commerce has made it difficult to distinguish the licit from the illicit, enhanced regulation and accountability in licit commerce could undermine demand for illicit goods and services. (TOC REPORT, supra.)