Modern forms of slavery

Human trafficking can be defined as “the recruitment, transportation,  transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use  of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of  deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of  the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent  of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of  exploitation.” (UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons)

While the means through which modern and traditional forms of slavery  have operated differ greatly, the violation of human rights and human  dignity are central issues in both practices, such as proclaimed in the  1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Today,  according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM),  millions of people, primarily women and children, are subjected to this  tragic fate, thus underscoring the imperative of all countries to  address and prevent the trafficking of persons.

In the context of  the “Project to Fight Human Trafficking in Africa”, UNESCO aims to  promote effective and culturally appropriate policy-making to combat the  trafficking of women and children in Western and Southern Africa. The  project conducts policy-oriented research on factors related to the  trafficking in pilot countries, collects best practices in fighting  trafficking at its roots, and organizes training workshops for  policymakers, NGOs, community leaders and the media.

In addition,  the Trafficking and HIV/AIDS Project based at the UNESCO Bangkok Office  tackles the linked triad of problems-HIV/AIDS, trafficking, and  non-traditional drug use-in the Greater Mekong Subregion, by  researching, developing, and implementing programmes which crosscut  these issues to address the needs of at-risk and vulnerable populations.  This project builds on UNESCO’s regional pillar of “extending  international protection to endangered, vulnerable and minority cultures  and cultural expressions”.

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Today  various international conventions define slavery and human trafficking  as a “crime against humanity” punishable by international law.