The ILO views with serious concern the increasing volume and complexity of trafficking in persons worldwide, especially migrant women and children. It recognizes the imperative need to address it at national, regional and global levels by promoting bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation to combat it.


Overview of the ILO Activities against Trafficking in Persons

The ILO views with serious concern the increasing volume and complexity of trafficking in persons worldwide, especially migrant women and children. It recognizes the imperative need to address it at national, regional and global levels by promoting bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation to combat it.

The ILO considers trafficking as a form of forced and compulsory labour, one of the worst forms of child labour, among the worst forms of exploitation of migrant workers and lastly, as an issue involving a significant number of women workers. It recognizes that trafficking in women and children (boys and girls) exists not only in the commercial sex industry, but also in other sectors such as domestic service, work in plantations, construction sites, sweatshops and begging and soliciting.

It also considers it essential to improve the role of the labour market in increasing employment opportunities and improving working conditions for affected families in source countries, and in particular for female members. Providing everyone with full, productive and freely chosen decent work can attack the root causes of trafficking. In addition, it considers the promotion of gender equality as one of the most important means to reduce trafficking since there is a strong link between women’s employment status, child labour and trafficking. Indeed, gender discrimination in society and in the labour market is one of the root causes of trafficking.

Within the ILO’s mandate, trafficking in persons for purposes of labour exploitation, in particular forced and compulsory labour and other slavery-like practices, is covered by a number of ILO Conventions:



The issue of trafficking is closely related to undocumented entry or stay in foreign countries. ILO’s Migration for Employment Convention (Revised), 1949 (No. 97), and the Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention, 1975 (No. 143) provide a normative framework for the protection of potential and actual trafficked victims. With regard to measures to prevent misleading information on employment abroad, C. 97, states that ratifying States undertake to maintain an adequate and free service to assist migrants for employment, and in particular to provide them with accurate information (Article 2). Ratifying States will also, insofar as national laws and regulations permit, take all the appropriate steps against misleading propaganda relating to emigration and immigration (Article 3.1).

Under Convention 143, States for which the Convention is in force shall take measures to detect, eliminate and apply sanctions for clandestine movement of migrants in abusive conditions and illegal employment of migrant workers, on the one hand, and on the other, provide a minimum level of protection to workers in an irregular situation. Convention No. 143 is primarily aimed against the organized movement of migrant workers by labour traffickers. It aims to prevent all forms of illegal or clandestine migration for employment in so far as they take place in abusive conditions. Abusive practices can include, among others, situations in which 1) candidates for migration are enticed into employment under false pretences; 2) migrants are specifically subjected to unacceptable harsh working and living conditions and are faced with dangers to their personal security or life; 3) workers suffer from degrading treatment or women are abused or forced into prostitution; and 4) migrants have their passports of their other identity documents confiscated.

Measures to suppress clandestine movements of migrants include: establishing systematic contact and exchange of information with other States (Articles 3 and 4); consulting representative organizations of employers and workers (Articles 2, 4 and 7); prosecuting the authors of labour trafficking whatever the country from which they exercise their activities (Article 5); and defining and applying administrative, civil and penal sanctions (which include imprisonment) in respect of organization of movements of migrants for employment in abusive conditions and in respect of knowing assistance to such movements, whether for profit or otherwise (Article 6). Finally, it should be noted that under Article 9.1 of the Convention, workers whose employment situation is irregular are nevertheless entitled to the same remuneration, social security and other benefits as lawfully employed migrants.

Considering the growing role of private employment agencies in the recruitment and placement of migrants workers, and recalling the need to protect migrant workers against fraudulent and abusive practices, including trafficking, the Private Employment Agencies Convention (No. 181) also offers some guidance for designing a legal framework to address trafficking of human beings. The Convention provides that a Member State shall […] adopt all necessary and appropriate measures, both within its jurisdiction and, where appropriate, in collaboration with other Members, to provide adequate protection for and prevent abuses of migrant workers recruited or placed in its territory by private employment agencies. These measures shall include laws or regulations which provide for penalties, including prohibition of those private employment agencies which engage in fraudulent practices and abuses (Article 8.1). Article 8.2 provides that where workers are recruited in one country for work in another, the Members concerned shall consider concluding bilateral agreements to prevent abuses and fraudulent practices in recruitment, placement and employment.

In this context, ILO’s well-developed supervisory system for the application of ratified Conventions plays a vital role. All countries which have ratified ILO Conventions owe periodic reports on their application in law and in practice. These reports may be commented on by employers’ and workers’ organizations to ensure that they correctly reflect the national situation, The most important Convention for this subject is the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29), ratified by 172 States to date.

Moreover, ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work reaffirms the commitment of the international community to respect, promote and realize in good faith four fundamental principles which comprise the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour and the effective abolition of child labour. The Declaration underscores that all members have an obligation to respect the fundamental principles involved, whether or not they have ratified the relevant ILO Conventions.

The ILO International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) carries out major projects aiming to reduce labour exploitation and combating trafficking in children.

Fonte:, acesso em 10jan2011