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Fight against human trafficking

France and the fight against human trafficking

Human trafficking is one of the most unacceptable forms of organised crime, run by what are now global networks, and a violation of the fundamental values of human rights, in particular respect for human dignity.

Every year, some 2.5 million victims worldwide, mostly women and children, are recruited and exploited by traffickers. The types of exploitation to which they may be exposed are many and varied: sexual exploitation, forced labour, domestic slavery, forced begging, etc.

According to the United Nations and the Council of Europe, trafficking in human beings is now the third most widespread form of trafficking worldwide after drugs and arms, generating no less than €32 billion in annual revenue for the traffickers.

The issue, identified as part of the framework of the fight against transnational organised crime, is a matter of real concern to the international community and to France in particular.

On the Human Rights Council, France supported the appointment in 2004 of a Special Rapporteur for trafficking in persons, especially in women and children, with a mandate to take action on violations of the human rights of victims of trafficking, to undertake country visits to assess the measures taken by States to prevent and combat trafficking, and to submit annual reports to the HRC along with recommendation on measures to respect and protect the rights of victims.

In 2007, the HCR also appointed a Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery.

France’s actions

France fully supports international mechanisms for combating trafficking in humans.

France is an active advocate for the universalisation and effective implementation of the additional protocol to the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC, otherwise known as the Palermo Convention), to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children. The Protocol is the only universal binding legal instrument against human trafficking. It centres on prevention and the protection of victims, but also on international cooperation on the prosecution and punishment of those who engage in trafficking.

France is also an active member of the Working Group on Trafficking in Persons set up by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The Working Group has drawn up a Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2010 (resolution 64/293) for the effective implementation of the Additional Protocol.

France also supports the efforts deployed by the United Nations through the UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT), launched in 2007, which brings together international organisations involved in combating human trafficking in the interests of greater coordination and mutual reinforcement of their action.

France is also party to the Optional Protocol to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and also to the various International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions on forced labour.

At regional level

France ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings in 2008. The Convention makes the protection of victims and defence of their rights a central tenet of the mechanism for combating trafficking. The Council has also set up a treaty body, the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), which is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Convention. France cooperates actively with GRETA, welcoming the visit of a GRETA delegation on its first evaluation round in 2012. A national plan of action is being drawn up to implement the treaty body’s recommendations.

French initiatives against trafficking in humans Africa

France provides support and technical assistance to non-EU countries to make them more effective in their fight against trafficking in humans. These programmes of action address every aspect of trafficking: from prevention to the prosecution and punishment of traffickers by ways of raising awareness among vulnerable populations and the protection of victims.

Alongside several other member States, France took part in and helped to finance an EU-funded project in collaboration with UNODC and the International Organisation for Migration (OIM) designed to reinforce multi-stakeholder cooperation (police forces, justice system and civil society) on combating trafficking in human beings in countries of origin and destination, primarily for purposes of sexual exploitation, in particular with Nigeria.

France also supports UNODC initiatives to combat human trafficking (mainly in West Africa) by means of voluntary annual contributions.

France also contributes to OSCE "good governance" funds, which are used to finance projects such as assistance to the victims of trafficking (in the Balkans, Caucasus, Eastern Europe and Central Asia).


Regional cooperation in Europe is core to the strategy advocated by France. It was for this very reason that France created the post of Regional Technical Adviser on the fight against trafficking in human beings at the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations in Vienna. The Technical Adviser implements cooperation projects with sixteen countries in South East Europe and is developing both technical and operational cooperation by creating synergies with all the partners concerned to encourage sharing of experience and dialogue.

In yet another example of cooperation, France is funding a project to prevent the risks of human trafficking associated with the migration of minors in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in the Tuzla region, which is particularly exposed to this scourge. The project is run by two NGOs, Hors la Rue and Zemlija Djete, and was set up to aid underage victims or potential victims through preventive work with parents and children and to provide resources for the care of child victims of trafficking.

Updated on : 01.03.13

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