Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women

Human Rights
at home, abroad and on the way...


Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women

Human Rights
at home, abroad and on the way...

Recommendations for Alliance 8.7 and the Achievement of SDG 8

IV Global Conference on the Sustained Eradiation of Child Labour

14-16 November 2017, Buenos Aires

Position paper by the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW)

versión en español

In 2015, world leaders adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. In target 8.7, they pledged totake immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end contemporary forms of slavery and trafficking in human beings, and ensure prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including the recruitment and use of child soldiers, and, by 2025, ending child labor in all its forms.”

Alliance 8.7 was created a year later to help states achieve this goal. While we appreciate the importance of the present effort to eradicate child labour, we are concerned that in seeking to address target 8.7, the other aspects of this target will be overlooked.

This document seeks to outline issues that must be addressed without delay if we are thinking seriously about eradicating forced labour. What we present here is the result of the work of many people and entities involved with GAATW and the knowledge and experience of migrants and trafficked persons.

States should implement the protections of labour rights for all workers[1] without any distinctions

The trend in global labour markets is toward precarious, informal and risky work. ‘Acceptable’ poor working conditions are being normalised because they do not meet the criteria for extreme exploitation, and therefore, do not merit the government to intervene and demand from employers and companies the labour rights of their employees. The trend towards precarious work is even more obvious in sectors with low status, little protection, considerable control, and low wages in which women and migrants predominate.

States should implement a framework for action that addresses the economic and labour dimensions of forced labour and human trafficking, including those which place a disproportionate burden on women

The eradication of forced labour and fulfilment of rights at work are intrinsically linked to States’ broader development commitments and rights obligations, including the right to adequate housing and the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.[2] It is important to address the lack of investment in social protection, poverty wages and forced overtime. A lack of social protection supports the dependence of the development model on the unpaid social reproductive work of women. States must put in place policies and provide adequate public services that promote a more equitable exchange of unpaid care responsibilities.


The tightening of migration restrictions creates opportunities and incentives to abuse the rights of migrants and workers, and states should address migration policies accordingly

Migrants are human beings and entitled to all human rights, regardless of status.[3] A lack of access to regular migration channels and legislation and policies that do not respect, protect and fulfil the rights of migrants means that migrants must depend on alternative routes through which they can run the risk of human rights abuses, including trafficking. The incidence of abuses arising from inadequate access to migration channels need to be reduced. States, and other actors, also need to recognise the agency of migrants, promote their autonomy and leadership, and stop treating them as victims or criminals.

The prevention of trafficking cannot be a justification for limiting the human rights of migrants

The need to prevent trafficking in persons is often cited by states as ideological cover to justify increased border restrictions and other anti-migration initiatives, including gendered restrictions on women’s migrations.[4]
The implementation of the UNTOC Protocols against human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants have focused disproportionately on prosecutions and criminalisation – a ‘Crime Control Approach’ - while inadequate resources and energy have been allocated to the restitution of the rights of trafficked persons and abused migrants. Success in anti-trafficking is measured not by the numbers of prosecutions or by border restrictions, but by the experience of trafficked persons in the restitution of their human rights.

Freedom of association and collective bargaining are essential to reduce vulnerability to forced labour

It is necessary to strengthen the knowledge of workers, migrants and nationals alike, of their rights and defend them, ensuring administrative measures that allow them to seek justice in cases of exploitation.

We urge Alliance 8.7 to:

  1. Incorporate civil society organisations, especially those of migrants or working children and adolescents, in forums and conferences such as this one to ensure that these people participate actively and are recognised in the political spaces that affect their lives.
  2. Focus efforts to ensure that the labour rights of migrants are upheld throughout the UN architecture, seeking complementarity with and including in the negotiation of the Global Compact for Migration.

We further urge States to:

  1. Reaffirm, in policy and practice, the protection of the human rights of all migrants, regardless of their immigration status
  2. Remove barriers to access to justice that exist for migrants who have been exploited or trafficked
  3. Eliminate all forms of detention of irregular migrants whose only fault is having entered or remained in a country without official authorisation.
  4. Implement firewalls by keeping public services and the criminal justice system separate from the application of migratory laws, allowing migrants who are in an irregular situation to report situations of exploitation and access the necessary social services.


[1] Objective 8.8 of the Sustainable Development Goals

[2] Article 25, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 12, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

[3] The Charter of International Rights - Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - includes nationals and non-nationals. There are only exceptions with respect to two rights, and only in limited circumstances: The ICCPR, in Article 25, reserves to the citizens the right to vote and participate in public affairs, and in Article 12 reserves the right to freedom of circulation within a country to foreigners who are legally present in the country. However, in its General Comment No. 15, the Human Rights Committee has indicated that a foreign person can enjoy the protection of Article 12, including in relation to entry or residence, for example, when considerations of non-discrimination arise, prohibition of inhumane treatment and respect for family life.

[4] GAATW, Smuggling and Trafficking: Rights and Intersections, GAATW Working Paper Series, 2011; ILO, No easy exit: Migration bans affecting women from Nepal, ILO, Geneva, 2015; R. Napier-Moore, Protected or put in harm’s way? Bans and restrictions on women’s labour migration in ASEAN countries, International Labour Organization and UN Women, Bangkok, 2017; Khoo Choon Yen and Kellynn Wee, Do Indonesian women want to be ‘rescued’ from ‘trafficking’? Migrating Out of Poverty, 12 July 2017.