Program on Human Trafficking and Forced Labor

The Center launched its Program on Human Trafficking and Forced Labor in 2008. Directed by Ann Jordan, renowned expert on the international law of human trafficking, the Program engaged in research, policy and debate around the widespread human rights abuses of human trafficking and forced labor. By focusing on evidence-based human rights responses, the Program sought to widen the debate beyond the current focus on law enforcement approaches—which, to date, have had minimal success—and instead called for state accountability for the human rights violations and policy failures giving rise to the root causes of human trafficking and forced labor. The Program promoted responses based on human rights principles, and evidence-based research and knowledge.

The Program on Human Trafficking and Forced Labor launched its Rights Work initiative in 2011 to challenge existing discourses on human trafficking and forced labor for the purpose of ensuring that critical national and global debates, policies, and responses were well-grounded within a human rights and evidence-based framework. Rights Work sought to address research gaps and facilitate debates about ‘what works.’ After over a decade of programs to combat human trafficking into forced labor, very little reliable evidence exists on the question of which interventions work, which do harm and which are ineffective. Trafficking narratives abound, but they mainly rely upon conventional myths and stereotypes about the problem. Rights Works aimed to counter this trend through innovative in-country evaluations of existing programs and on-line discussions about critical issues from an evidence and rights-based perspective.

For more information about this program, please contact humlaw@wcl.american.edu.