Policy Briefs

Policy Briefs

Demand and demand-reduction have become catchwords in the anti-trafficking debates. Although at the level of these debates demand is predominantly understood in an economic sense – the willingness and ability to purchase – in anti-trafficking practice the concept is not consistently used. The DemandAT project set out to clarify the meaning and relevance of demand in the anti-trafficking field, as well as to contribute to a better formulation of demand-side policies in this area. The research involved a range of complementary sub-studies, including in-depth case studies on demand-side approaches in the context of trafficking in domestic work, globalised production of goods and prostitution. In addition, two further in-depth studies examined specific types of interventions addressing human trafficking – law enforcement and communication campaigns. The studies yield a series of new insights for the usage and relevance of demand in addressing trafficking.

As bodies tasked to monitor labour conditions and compliance with labour standards and to enforce the relevant labour, social security and other laws, labour inspection services – in principle – have an important role in addressing trafficking for labour exploitation. However, addressing trafficking for labour exploitation, or labour exploitation more widely, is not necessarily a core part of their mandate. In addition, monitoring is constrained by their limited resources and the continuous expansion of labour inspectorates’ mandates and tasks.

The security sector approach to criminal justice is integrated into legal framework and strategies, which guide their activities and enable the security sector to carry out functions related to areas such as apprehension, investigation, confiscation and conviction. Yet, as this policy brief finds a clear definition of the term ‘demand’ and demand-side measures is lacking in the security sector’s legal frameworks, mandates and strategies. As security sector role is very much tied to its governing legislation, the security sector therefore seems unable to act proactively in ‘addressing demand’ without a clear definition of the demand-side. It is therefore suggested that for this sector not only is a definition needed, but also a legal framework for action.

For further information, please consult the related DemandAT working paper.

Demand-side campaigns seek to reduce trafficking in human beings by influencing patterns of the spending of money for goods and services, and by encouraging the reporting of suspicious occurrences to the police or NGOs. Although considerable funds are devoted to such campaigns, little is known about their impact. Campaign evaluation is strikingly lacking. In a policy brief summarising key insights from research on demand-side campaigns conducted  in the framework of the DemandAT project, Dita Vogel and Norbert Cyrus from the University of Bremen argue that better evaluation is possible and propose concrete steps that can be taken to make campaigns more easily evaluable.

This policy brief recognises that prostitution policy regimes can be identified as repressive, restrictive and integrative, or a combination of these (see further the related DemandAT working paper). It therefore recommends a policy approach that is context-sensitive, suggesting measures against violence, exploitation, and trafficking that can be implemented in each type of regime. The main strategies for preventing exploitation are those that can reduce sex workers’ vulnerability, limit opportunities for exploitation, and build alliances between sex workers, NGOs, and authorities. The brief also recommends a collaborative form of governance that has proven successful when developing innovative policy measures in other politically sensitive domains.

Concerns around trafficking, forced labour and slavery (TFLS) have grown in recent years, with increasing attention being paid to TFLS within businesses' supply chains. In response, a diverse range of initiatives have been launched to address the TFLS-supply chain nexus.  Seeking to map and understand this emerging field of intervention, Fabiola Mieres and Siobhan McGrath have recently completed a project documenting and analysing these initiatives as part the DemandAT project on 'demand side measures against trafficking'. The research involved extensive desk-based identification and analysis of 97 initiatives at the TFLS-supply chain nexus. Fieldwork in Qatar, the US and Malaysia then explored selected initiatives in further depth. The project benefited from the involvement of a stakeholder advisory board representing organizations based in Brazil, Jordan, Ghana, India, Switzerland and the US.