#3 Drafting the Palermo Protocol (4:19)

This clip summarizes issues surrounding the development of the anti-trafficking framework in the UN Protocol. Read below to see what’s here, but the video might be a good start as it’s very short and entertaining.

The anti-trafficking framework, as most people think of it, and as established in the UN Protocol, defines trafficking so as to include all labor including sex work. This was brought to us by “sex worker rights informed” anti-trafficking activists, and brought forth in the Palermo Protocol through the Human Rights Caucus.

See this article by Melissa Ditmore and Marjan Wijers for details: bayswan.org/traffick/NEMESIS_Ditmore.PDF

Prior to that time, trafficking related to people referred (mostly or totally?) to prostitution.

I would also refer to Human Rights Standards established by this group which is a bottom line in this effort.  https://web.archive.org/web/20040725015057/hrlawgroup.org/resources/content/IHRLGTraffickin_tsStandards.pdf

Many sex worker groups and activists around the world had another key angle on this issue, disavowing the strategy and seeking a collective understanding of the harms of the resurgence of the trafficking framework.

An additional response in an early statement: bayswan.org/traffick/sfa.html

I think this history lends a new perspective as to the role of sex worker rights within anti-trafficking.

People should understand that there are two wings of the anti-trafficking movement, and that Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women has been crucial, has been there from the beginning, and with STV and IHRLG, launched the minimum standards for treatment of trafficked people and more. gaatw.org/

Their PDF, Collateral Damage, represents just some of the research on the harms of the current initiatives.


In addition, I refer you to James C. Hathaway (refugee rights) who wrote a good summary along with his perspective on the drafting of the Palermo Protocol regarding trafficking and forced labor in general. He summarized the situation in much the same way.repository.law.umich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1295&context=articles He says: ““The voices around the table were so preoccupied by the conflict with the abolitionists over the legitimacy of sex work that not even they raised alarm about the serious negative human rights externalities that were built into the Protocols”
Project Description:
This work includes short segments of a history focusing on the impact of anti-trafficking campaigns on sex workers within the last century, and the role of the US in a campaign to further the criminalization of sex work around the globe.
Anti-trafficking is a sacred cow, but behind this humanitarian concern is a century-old movement that historically reflects xenophobia and prostitution abolitionism. This trailer offers a historical review of a 19th century anti-trafficking campaigns and a survey of trafficking portrayals in the media. “When I first heard about the resurgence of the white slavery/trafficking framework, I knew that I had to show how this moral panic has historically resulted in discriminatory immigration policies, increased criminalization of sex work and few solutions for individuals who are victims of forced labor.”