Linking conflict, violence and exploitation
In 2016, more countries experienced some form of violent conflict than at any time in the past 30 years.1 People living in conflict-affected areas can be victims of abuse, violence and exploitation , including trafficking in persons. The risk of human trafficking is also linked to the high number of refugees. The need to flee war and persecution can be exploited for exploitation by traffickers.
Trafficking in persons in the context of armed conflict has received increased attention from the international community. In November 2017, the United Nations Security Council addressed the subject in Resolution 2388 and reiterated its deep concern over the continued trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflict. He also underlined that certain offenses related to trafficking in persons in armed conflicts may constitute war crimes.2 In addition, the Security Council reiterated its condemnation of all acts of trafficking committed by the Islamic State. of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, the Lord’s Resistance Army and other terrorist or armed groups for the purposes of sexual slavery, sexual exploitation and forced labor.
In resolution 2331 of December 2016, the Security Council called on the Secretary-General to take measures to improve data collection, monitoring and analysis of trafficking in persons in the context of armed conflict. 4 In response, This study examines how trafficking in persons occurs in the context of armed conflict through an analysis based on an in-depth literature review, a review of case histories from international tribunals and interviews with personnel from peacekeeping operations. Peace of the United Nations.5 Human trafficking is another dimension of the violence, brutality and abuse that occurs in armed conflict. While trafficking takes many forms, its final aim is always exploitation. Victims are trafficked for the purpose of forced labor exploitation in various sectors, from agriculture to mining. They are also victims of trafficking to serve as domestic workers, for purposes of sexual exploitation or armed combat. Children are often recruited into armed groups for forced labor in a range of military-related roles. As one expert described it: “when there are armed groups, there can be all kinds of exploitation”.
Factors contributing to trafficking in persons in armed conflict
Widespread violence that characterizes conflict zones shapes the conditions for a range of actors, including armed groups, to force or deceive civilians into exploitative situations.
A combination of different elements characterizing armed conflict increases the risk of trafficking. Armed conflicts amplify the social and economic vulnerabilities of those affected. In addition, the erosion of the rule of law, which safeguards and protects individuals in peacetime, is a common consequence of armed conflict. The breakdown of state institutions and the resulting impunity help create an environment in which human trafficking can flourish.
Forced displacement is another factor that contributes to an individual’s vulnerability to trafficking. In 2017, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that more than 68 million people had been forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations.
Displaced people may have limited access to education, financial resources or income generation opportunities. This provides a fertile environment for traffickers to promise them safe migration routes, employment and education or vocational training, and to deceive them into exploitative situations. Children displaced or separated from their families without support networks are particularly likely to become targets for traffickers.8 Discrimination and / or marginalization of minorities forces many to abandon family and friends in search of safety and protection . Breaking social ties and declining levels of regular economic activity in conflict situations can force people to seek alternative livelihoods.
Trafficking in and out of armed conflict
In conflict zones, trafficking in persons for the purpose of sexual slavery, recruitment of children into armed groups, forced labor and the abduction of women and girls for forced marriage are forms of trafficking. most frequently reported.
Armed groups use trafficking as part of their strategy to increase their military power and economic resources, but also to project a violent image of themselves and sow fear among local populations. Armed groups also use sexual violence and sexual slavery in their operations. In some conflicts, for example, the prospect of receiving “sex slaves” as a reward for joining the group is part of armed groups’ strategies to recruit new combatants.
Trafficking in persons linked to armed conflict also occurs outside specific conflict zones. This is generally linked to the higher levels of vulnerability experienced by people living on the fringes of conflict, such as internally displaced people, refugees and others living in neighboring areas affected by armed conflict. In these situations, victims are mainly victims of trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labor, forced marriage or for multiple forms of exploitation. People who use smugglers to escape conflict may become victims of trafficking, forced into forced labor or sexual exploitation to pay the smugglers’ fees.
Definition of trafficking and other crimes in the context of conflict
Trafficking in persons is a complex phenomenon that occurs in a variety of different contexts. The internationally accepted definition of the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, defines the crime in terms of three constituent elements, namely the act, the means and the purpose. .
It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between different crimes; an even more acute challenge in conflict situations. A range of crimes can include elements of people transported, recruited or transferred with some form of coercion, deception or abuse for the purpose of exploitation. For example, conflict-related sexual violence13 may encompass aspects of human trafficking. Violent and exploitative crimes such as sexual slavery in conflict zones usually stem from a trafficking process, as they involve an act (often recruitment and / or transport) and a means (often coercion) as well as a goal (exploitation). Trafficking occurs when armed groups abduct and / or coerce people into forced marriages, which has been observed in many armed conflicts around the world and continues to occur on a significant scale.
The recruitment of children, and sometimes also the forced or deceptive recruitment of adults, into armed groups is another example of human trafficking. These children and adults are used as combatants or subjected to sexual slavery or used in various support roles. In many cases, “child soldiers” are recruited or abducted and then exploited, qualifying this conduct as trafficking in persons. Recruitment of children by armed groups is one of the six grave violations against children15 and is considered a war crime.16 Trafficking in persons is reported by UN agencies and other international organizations in different ways.
UNODC attempted to establish the facts of the situations examined in this study in order to assess whether the conduct in question was, in fact, trafficking in persons. However, it was not always possible to establish with certainty as the information available on the different cases was often incomplete. Some of the crimes examined in this study can clearly be defined as human trafficking, while others exhibit elements of human trafficking in the way they were committed. For example, cases of conflict involving sexual violence or war crimes have been documented by many organizations. Although some of them include elements of exploitation, they are not necessarily considered human trafficking.
Structure of this booklet
This brochure presents the state of knowledge on trafficking in persons in the context of armed conflict. It is based on an in-depth review of literature and reports from regional and international organizations, combined with primary information collected from areas where armed conflicts have been debated by the United Nations Security Council. It is based on cases heard by international criminal tribunals and on interviews with United Nations peacekeeping personnel based in field missions in or near conflict zones. A detailed methodology, interview questions and a list of respondents are appended to this brochure.
The first section provides an overview of the main forms of trafficking that have been identified in and around conflict zones. The following section describes commonly identified victim profiles and describes the main factors impacting their vulnerability to trafficking. The third section identifies the main perpetrators and analyzes the ways in which human trafficking is used as part of their modus operandi. The final section presents examples of human trafficking in conflict scenarios on the Security Council’s agenda (where sufficient information was available).