Around the globe, an estimated 20.9 million people are in situations of so-called modern day slavery, or forced labour, at any point of time. Many of these victims are trafficked within their country or across borders. Considering this number, there is an urgent need to improve our understanding of criminal activities in the area of human trafficking and exploitation, the difficulties to track perpetrators and protect victims.

The individual criminals and complex networks behind different forms of trafficking and exploitation as well as the high level of profits connected to their illicit activities stress the need to consider human trafficking and exploitation in terms of transnational organised crime.

Drawn from a series of webinars hosted by the Global Initiative and Babson College in 2014-15, this report highlights emerging human trafficking challenges and identifies promising anti-trafficking initiatives from the private sector.

Each chapter of the report covers one of five key areas of human trafficking:

  • Migrant workers in the USA and their vulnerability to labour exploitation
  • Online sexual exploitation of children and recent technological developments in detecting this form of crime
  • Human trafficking in football, particularly in the area of recruitment of young athletes
  • Labour exploitation and the construction industry, using the example of the kafala system in the Gulf countries to highlight flawed national regulation putting migrant works at risk of being trafficked and exploited
  • Responding to the global black market in illicit organs and the intrinsic role the private sector has played in enabling this illicit business

Whilst each chapter clearly shows the organised criminal networks behind the different forms of trafficking and exploitation, there are significant differences in the types of crimes and their individual complexities. It is, therefore, crucial to deepen the research into each of the areas and to develop individual responses and strategies private sectors can apply to counter criminal networks across the globe.

The report finds that the private sector needs to play a stronger role in ensuring ethical and fair practices, and to contribute its unique knowledge and expertise to help in the fight against human trafficking. Overall, the private sector is an increasingly important actor in enabling as well as in combating the different aspects of human trafficking.

The report is based on a webinar series jointly presented by the Global Initiative and Babson College’s Initiative on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery which was supported by McKenna Long & Aldridge, now Dentons and by TraCCC, the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University.