By Kathleen McGlynn
Modeling the Effectiveness of the International Anti-Sex Trafficking Regime
International sex trafficking is a confounding and complex global phenomenon. The US Department of Health and Human Services defines sex trafficking as “a modern-day form of slavery in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years”. The US government estimates that between 600,000-800,000 women fall victim to international human trafficking each year. These figures remain high despite efforts by the international anti-sex trafficking regime’s work to inhibit human trafficking on a global level.
Regime theory argues that international institutions or regimes influence states’ interactions. In his book International Regimes, Steven Krasner explains that regimes are exemplified where “principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actor expectations converge in a given issue-area”. The international community first introduced laws against the involuntary selling of human beings in 1815 with the implementation of the Declaration Relative to the Universal Abolition of the Slave Trade, and from 1815-1957 approximately 300 documents were issued to condemn slavery. The first laws specifically aimed at combating modern-day slavery, the trafficking of human persons, were implemented 43 years later when the United Nations adopted the “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking, Especially Women and Children” in 2000. With the exposure provided by the United Nations, many countries began to recognize sex trafficking as an international quandary and work cohesively to limit its existence. Using Krasner’s definition, we can characterize these nations working in tandem as an ‘international anti-sex trafficking regime’.