Keynote Address by Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, Ph.D.; OON, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children presented at the Pontifical Academies of Sciences & Social Sciences, Working Group on “Trafficking in Human Beings: Modern Slavery: Destitute Peoples and the Message of Jesus Christ”

What Will it Take to End the Impunity of Human Trafficking?

2 November 2013

I thank the organizers of this working group on “Trafficking in Human Beings: Modern Slavery: Destitute Peoples and the Message of Jesus Christ” for adding their unique and resounding voice in the clarion call to end trafficking in persons, or trafficking in human beings or better known as human trafficking, the shame of our time also rightly tagged modern day slavery. In the words of the then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell:

It is incomprehensible that trafficking in human beings should be taking place in the 21st century – incomprehensible but it’s true, very true… Deprived of the most fundamental human rights, subjected to threats and violence, victims of trafficking are made to toil under horrific conditions in sweatshops and on construction sites, in fields and in brothels1.

We’re all aware or at least have read about the form and modus operandi of transatlantic slavery where estimated millions mostly men and boys predominantly of African origin were trafficked. Today, we’re witnessing something similar and even more sinister in the so-called free world notwithstanding that slavery has been denounced and abolished for over two centuries. An analysis of human trafficking today reveals similar trend in the illegal trade in human beings but perhaps more lucrative, much larger in scale, sophistication and disproportionately affects women and girls, often victims of sex trafficking, domestic servitude, servile marriage and other forms of exploitative labour. Article 3 of the UN TIP Protocol (otherwise known as the Palermo Protocol) made it clear that Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

While acknowledging lack of statistical clarity in measuring the scale, there is unanimity that at least 2.5million people at any given time are victims of human trafficking. However, when you juxtapose this with the recent ILO survey that shows that 20.9 million people that are in forced labour situation one is bound to shudder and conclude without much hesitation that the problem is far more than we know or care to acknowledge. The 2012 world survey by the ILO reveals that of the total number of 20.9 million forced labourers, 18.7 million (90%) are exploited in the private economy, by individuals or enterprises. Out of these, 4.5 million (22%) are victims of forced sexual exploitation, and 14.2 million (68%) are victims of forced labour exploitation in economic activities, such as agriculture, construction, domestic work or manufacturing. The remaining 2.2 million (10%) are in state-imposed forms of forced labour, for example in prisons, or in work imposed by the state military or by rebel armed forces. Women and girls represent the greater share of the total – 11.4 million (55%), as compared to 9.5 million (45%) men and boys. Adults are more affected than children – 74% (15.4 million) of victims fall in the age group of 18 years and above, whereas children aged 17 years and below represent 26% of the total (or 5.5 million child victims).

The 2005 ILO report also placed the global minimum estimate number of persons in forced labour as a result of trafficking at 2,450,000. Trafficking represents a significant proportion of forced labour cases, namely about 20 per cent of all forced labour and about one quarter of forced labour cases exacted by private agents2.   It is often assumed that people are mainly trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. However, ILO estimates indicate that 32 per cent of all victims were trafficked into labour exploitation, while 43 per cent were trafficked for sexual exploitation and 25 per cent for a mixture of both3.

Trafficking and forced labour are manifest today in the agricultural, construction industry, service and garment industries. Although, the scale is difficult to quantify because of insidious, complex and dynamic nature of trafficking, including unwillingness of victims to speak out for fear of further victimization or harm to themselves, it nevertheless is not declining from my global experience as the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons.  Furthermore, available statistics from ILO and Global Alliance on Forced Labour show that it affects disproportionate number of women and girls worldwide. From South East Asia, to Latin America, to Europe, Middle East and West Africa the Stories are not different.  It’s a tale of woes of women and men involuntarily conscripted to work or provide services against their will or volition and for little or no compensation by way of wages or benefits.  In fact, the type of work women and men, including children are forced into are sort of stratified by gender and age a major predisposing factors. For example, men are likely to be predominantly trafficked into fishing boats (boatmen), construction and agricultural work that are labour intensive while women are likely to be trafficked into hospitality industry, garment/sweat shops, food processing and electronics (manufacturing sector) and also entrapped as domestic workers in private homes or forced as entertainers in the sex industry. On the other hand children are victims of forced labour across all these industries but to a limited degree in construction and fishing boats.

ILO regional breakdown for the 2012 world survey revealed the regional distribution as follows: the Asia-Pacific region (AP) accounts for by far the largest number of forced labourers – 11.7 million or 56% of the global total. The second highest number is found in Africa (AFR) at 3.7 million (18%), followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (LA) with 1.8 million victims (9%). The Developed Economies and European Union (DE&EU) account for 1.5 million (7%) forced labourers, whilst countries of Central, Southeast and Eastern Europe (non EU) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CSEE) have 1.6 million (7%). There are an estimated 600,000 (3%) victims in the Middle East (ME).

Although, forced labour is closely linked to human trafficking – as there is always an element of forced labour exacted on trafficked persons; however, there is no total coincidence i.e. that every case of forced labour is a case of trafficking. In other words, a person may be in forced labour as a result of bonded labour or peonage without being trafficked and while remaining in their place of origin. Nevertheless these figures challenges statistical information previously brandished.

Although much higher number are migrating freely in today’s globalized world, significant number of that migrants have fallen victims and become trafficked persons in that migratory process. The motives for migration today have a shared similarity with why people get trafficked or fall prey at the manipulating hands of sweet coated tongues of traffickers offering mouthwatering contracts to lure and deceive their victims. In the Trans-Atlantic slavery people were forced into slavery but today people walk into that thereby making it complicated and complex in fighting this phenomenon called modern day slavery.

TIP is caused by wide array of factors, including growing poverty, joblessness, inequality, gender based violence, social exclusion, war and displacement that may result from natural disaster. These root causes of human trafficking, including demand continue to pose a challenge in combating all forms of human trafficking. The current world economic crisis has further exacerbated the desperation and the quest for human security, access to descent standards of living, survival and development. As I stressed in my 2009 annual report to the General Assembly, trafficking of human beings and migration pushed by the search for a better life are closely linked. It is often difficult economic circumstances that make people consider the option of migration and it is also poverty that makes them vulnerable to becoming easy targets for traffickers. The current global economic crisis and the increasing poverty caused by massive unemployment are likely to lead to an increase in trafficking for the purpose of exploitative labour.  In the current context, employers tend to seek cheaper labour which allows them reduce their costs and to maximize their profits. ‘Demand side’ of trafficking in persons is a significant factor that contributes to fostering and leading to human trafficking.

I have listened to the stories of VOTs/trafficked persons around the world and it’s always the desire to survive, find a decent livelihood and improve their well-being and that of their families that are at the root of their desire to migrate and resultant trafficking.

In my recent country mission to Italy I met X, a 21 year old Nigerian girl travelled by plane from Nigeria, transiting through Turkey, Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia before arriving in Italy by train. Not only was she trafficked but was held in debt bondage as her father back in Edo Sate had put up his land as collateral for the down-payment of the 60,000 euro fee demanded to bring her to Europe. The young woman was moved from Turin to Milan and Paris to sell her body in order to repay her debt. She was rescued following a random identification check in Italy where she benefits from assistance. However, x has to lie to her parents about her detention as they are asking her to send money to repay the debt to her traffickers. The traffickers have continued to threaten her family back in Nigeria since her disappearance from their radar.’’

“I met with and listened to the sad tales of several victims of sex and labour trafficking across Italy. I vividly recall the traumatized face of a young Asian woman, trafficked for labour exploitation, who was forced to work in a sweatshop, sewing all day. She was victim deception and coercion by her so-called boyfriend whose violence and exploitation caused her to lose her sight and suffer severe hand injuries for which she underwent surgery and now recuperating in a shelter. Her determination to survive, despite her traumatizing experience reminds us of a collective responsibility to bring succour to trafficked persons.”

Even though trafficking is intertwined with other criminal activities such as smuggling, drugs and arms trafficking, I strong believe that States must refrain from treating trafficking only from a crime and border-control perspective or simply as a migration issue. Multilevel and innovative approaches are needed that will focus on various perspectives including human rights; crime control and criminal justice; migration; and labour. Human rights unarguably should be at the core of any effort to combat or eliminate trafficking in persons. Trafficking is a grave violation of human rights, in particular the right to liberty, human dignity, and the right not to be held in slavery or involuntary servitude. Moreover, as experiences from around the world show, trafficking is often related to the violation of a wide range of other fundamental human rights. The rights violated include, but are not limited to: the right to freedom from discrimination, right to life and security of person, right to human dignity, freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, right to recognition as a person before the law, right to freedom from arbitrary detention, right to access to justice, legal aid and representation, right to equal protection before the law, right to compensation and effective remedy, and right to non-conditional assistance, right to privacy, right to freedom of movement, right to information and freedom of expression, right to freedom of association, right to be heard, right not to be held in slavery and freedom from forced or compulsory labour, right to just and favourable conditions of employment, right to remuneration, right to equal pay for equal work, right to marry, right to health, right to bodily integrity, right to reproductive self-determination, right to gender equality.

As Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children, I have based the fulcrum of my work for the past 5 years on advocating for the implementation of anti-trafficking responses based on 5Ps (protection, prosecution, punishment, prevention, promoting international cooperation and partnership), 3Rs (redress, recovery and reintegration) and 3Cs (capacity, cooperation and coordination), guided by international human rights law and standards. A holistic, human rights based approach and victim centered perspective is what is needed to effectively and in a sustainable manner combat this heinous crime of human trafficking. Trafficking in person result in cumulative breaches of human rights and this needs to be recognized in any intervention effort. The office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) at the United Nations in 2002 developed the principles and guidelines in order to provide practical, rights-based policy guidance on the prevention of trafficking and the protection of victims of trafficking.

Having given an overview of trafficking in human beings, its forms and manifestations, including its causes and consequences we shall now turn to consider the central question to this keynote address- what will it take to end human trafficking? I have posited earlier that a framework for combating trafficking would have to rest on 5 P’s, 3 R’s and 3 C’s for it to be comprehensive and impactful. Consequently, I will propose solution hinged on this mantra towards ending human trafficking using part of its constituents element of this framework and much more informed by my experience around the globe working on this issue for the past 5 years.

  • Protection- Legal and Policy frameworks: States have the primary obligation to protect its citizens, to prevent and combat trafficking in persons under international law by enacting and enforcing legislation criminalizing trafficking and forced labour, imposing proportionate punishments on perpetrators. Therefore, all countries must criminalize trafficking in human beings in their Penal Code, provide protection for the rights of victims. UN member States should ratify the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. In addition, States should ratify other related legal conventions and instruments of significance in fighting human trafficking, including  the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29) and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182); ILO Domestic Workers Convention No. 189; the Convention on the Rights of the Child;  and the Optional Protocols thereto on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography;  the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; and the Human Rights of Migrant Workers Convention. The Universal ratification of the UN Protocol is paramount in promoting zero tolerance to human trafficking. Importantly, it will reinforce the global partnership and cooperation required to end human trafficking. Today, 157 countries are State Parties to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children supplementing the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, 2000. I urge the remaining non-ratifying States to urgently do so as a clear commitment to the global fight to end modern day slavery. Member States and other stakeholders must utilize existing legal and policy frameworks at the international, regional and national levels in implementing measures to eliminate all forms of trafficking in persons in a concerted manner.
  • Prevention: prevention work, -- including monitoring and evaluation of anti-trafficking initiatives is crucial in ending trafficking in human beings. Strategies aimed at preventing trafficking in persons must address underlying factors that render people vulnerable to trafficking, such as poverty, lack of employment opportunities, sex discrimination and inequality, restrictive immigration laws and policies, war and conflict. Demand for exploitative labour and services, particularly demand by employers and third parties involved in trafficking, should be addressed as a root cause of trafficking. In preventing trafficking in persons, the participation of trafficked persons in designing and implementing prevention measures is critical. Policies, initiatives and programmes informed by the voices of trafficked persons will be more effective, as trafficked persons can provide crucial information about why they left their homes and what strategy or support was needed to prevent them from being trafficked. In raising awareness, the media must be involved as a key partner. Also, new technologies that especially appeals to vulnerable youths must be employed in communicating the phenomenon of human trafficking. In fact, new technologies have also contributed to trends of child trafficking for cybersex and pornography. I met a victim in UAE who met her trafficker in Georgia through a website advertising jobs in a beauty salon; while a second victim, a university graduate from Colombia, responded to a job offer online, and was even interviewed through Skype by her trafficker. Once she landed in Dubai, she became enslaved for three years until she was found by the Police. Increasingly, people are getting trafficked even without physical contact but just via cyperspace.
  • Victim Centered Approach: The importance of a rights-based and victim-centred approach to trafficking in persons has been well established and the parameters of such a response have been fleshed out in detail based on the 3 R’s in my reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly4. Identification, protection and assistance to victims are crucial in finding the traffickers and punishing them appropriately. Adequate and effective remedies are often out of reach for trafficked persons, despite the egregious human rights violations they suffered. Trafficked persons are rarely known to have received compensation, as they do not have access to information, legal assistance, regular residence status and other assistance necessary to seek compensation. At worst, many trafficked persons are wrongly identified as irregular migrants, detained and deported even without having had a chance to consider seeking remedies.
  • Border Security versus restrictive immigration policies: A security approach without incorporation of development and a human rights perspectives, including entering into cooperation agreements with sending countries will be ineffective and unsustainable in dealing with human trafficking. There is urgent need to create safe migration option as well as open migration information centers in source countries to counsel and provide information to would be migrants and potential victims of human trafficking and smuggling. The heartrending October incidents in Mediterranean sea and by the corridors of Italy where hundreds lost their lives in desperate search for the promise of a better life in Europe call for urgent and multi-faceted action to avoid a reoccurrence. As rightly observed by my colleague, Mr. François Crépeau , the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants- “ Currently, migrants themselves, often with the help of smugglers, are crossing borders regardless of State policies,”  He reiterate the fact that people migrate irregularly due to a lack of regular channels for migration, and largely in response to unrecognized labour needs in destination States. 
  • Cooperation: I want to underline that cooperation and partnership among all stakeholders are imperative to fighting trafficking in persons.  Trafficking in persons requires a multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder response. Coordination should be at the national, regional and international levels. The United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons (A/RES/67/260) promotes international cooperation in combating trafficking in persons, which is often committed transnationally and requires cooperation of source, transit and destination countries.  Without international cooperation and collaboration, effective investigation and prosecution of the crime of human trafficking, including prevention would be hindered. All Member States and other stakeholders should strengthen their partnership and cooperation at bilateral, regional and international levels in the collective efforts to effectively fight this phenomenon and to protect the human rights of trafficked persons. The Trafficking Protocol clearly recognizes the role of bilateral or multilateral cooperation in alleviating factors that make persons vulnerable to trafficking, such as poverty, underdevelopment and lack of equal opportunity, as well as in discouraging demands that foster trafficking in persons. 
  • Ancillary to cooperation is the need for continuing public/private partnerships to end human trafficking. I have analysed the question of trafficking in persons in business supply chains, including corporate responsibilities to prevent and combat human trafficking in their supply chains, I noted that in today’s globalized world, the risks of human trafficking in business supply chains are significant in many economic sectors, and have not been adequately dealt with, either by States or by businesses themselves. Challenges remains in integrating a human rights-based approach in addressing the demand side of trafficking in persons include obstacles such as ensuring labour rights, ensuring the respect and implementation of children’s rights, and other fundamental human rights while conducting business.
  • Funding anti trafficking initiatives: Funding is crucial to enhance capacity providing training for relevant law enforcement agencies, including police, immigration, labour inspectors and social workers to especially identify trafficked persons quickly and accurately, and to make referrals to appropriate services, particularly when minors are involved. Further, adequate funding will ensure greater coherence in combating trafficking in human beings and importantly to bring succor to trafficked persons. While political will exists to fight human trafficking, the economic will to do so is doubtful and continue to hamper progress. Everyone knows that the illegal trade in human beings is a multi-billion dollars business with traffickers reaping huge profits from their impunity. Nevertheless, we have less than one billion dollars to combat it. The UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children in its over three years of existence is yet to raise any funding near to one billion dollars. The UN Slavery Fund that was earlier in time lacks the crucial funding to continue support to grassroots organizations around the world.  States in most cases do not pay or support CSOs, providing services, including shelter, psycho-social, medical, legal, livelihood support amongst others to trafficked persons. Today we have more money in wild life conservation initiatives (which I have nothing against) than in programmes to combat human trafficking? Why is it so and what a shame to humanity? Are we not seeing the clear, present and continuing danger of human trafficking? I want to reiterate that we’re mutually vulnerable if we don’t act to end trafficking in human beings now. Until we free every enslaved person, until then we’re not free ourselves. We need to galvanize urgently necessary political and economic will, including leadership to end this modern day slavery. We need a movement far stronger than the one that ended slavery in the olden days. Unlike the Trans-Atlantic slavery, today’s slavery in the form of human trafficking knows no border and affects every country either as source, transit and/or destination. This is an added impetus for all to get on board since no one country is immune from its devastating consequences.
  • Tackling Root Causes of Trafficking in Persons: Trafficking of migrant workers is chiefly due to poverty and unequal access to employment and means of livelihood for them in countries of origin. For example, women want to migrate to earn income or run away from gender based violence at home country. Sometimes their migration is facilitated by family members who want to exploit their sexuality to make money for the family. On the whole, seeking a better future for themselves and their families is usually the overreaching reason that forces people to go in search of human security and their eventual vulnerability to being trafficked. Consequently, human development, including access to education and decent work and income are central to addressing the root causes of trafficking such as poverty and human insecurity. There is a linkage, which I want to bring to the fore between achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and tackling the root causes of trafficking5. Some of the MDGs are of particular importance to combating trafficking. It is not simply a coincidence that the first three factors which are always mentioned when discussing vulnerability, namely poverty, gender discrimination and education, correspond to the first three MDGs. By addressing different aspects of poverty, the MDGs are intrinsically linked to the factors increasing vulnerability of people to trafficking. As such, when States express their commitment to the MDGs and adopt policies towards their implementation, States are taking “social and economic initiatives” and the “measures, including through bilateral or multilateral cooperation, to alleviate the factors that make persons, especially women and children, vulnerable to trafficking” to which the Protocol makes reference in article 9 paragraphs 2 and 4. In analyzing the MDGs, it is important to note that MDGs, by the fact of helping to reduce vulnerability of people to trafficking, constitute an important contribution to the prevention of trafficking. Several authors report that the majority of prevention policies adopted to combat trafficking are mainly focused in increasing public awareness and education and consider that vulnerability “emerges as the missing link in formulating well-developed policies and practices”: “Both crime prevention and reduction of vulnerability are valid approaches. Each calls for different dynamics in policy and programme planning. (…) A focus on vulnerability will in fact enhance the human rights component of an anti-trafficking policy”.  Underlying the human rights component of these policies means putting a particular attention to the principle of empowerment, understood as “an expansion of people’s capabilities and freedoms to participate in, negotiate with, influence, control and hold accountable institutions that affect their lives”6.
  • Corruption and bad governance, especially in source countries are undoubtedly road blocks to tackling the root causes. Source/sending countries most times act like helpless victims, which they are definitely not instead of addressing the hydra-headed corruption within that fuel human trafficking.  World leaders in Post 2015 MDG have to show real commitment to a better world.

In addressing what it will take to end the impunity of trafficking, it’s vital to demystify our collective notions of who is a trafficker or who these human traffickers are? Sometimes when we think of traffickers we think of them as non -humans, strangers, foreigners, bad guys, criminals, traders, etc. It is important to note that modern day traffickers have many faces and are members of our different communities not people from another planet. Traffickers are men and women that entrap others in situation of slavery. They live amongst us and sometimes include decent, civilized individuals such as diplomats who import domestic workers and hold them in isolation and forced labour in their homes. They could be members of organized criminal networks that move people into forced prostitution. Some of them are men who import foreign-born women, ostensibly for marriage but in reality for the purpose of holding them in servitude and subjecting them to sexual abuse. Others are families that import men, women and children to work in forced labour in their offices, factories and homes, and subject them to sexual and physical assault. Traffickers then are our next-door neighbors. Their victims are all around us. They force their victims to cook our food in neighbourhood restaurants, or in their own homes, sew our clothes or pick today’s fresh vegetables. They could even be the foreign born wife of a co – worker, or the woman held in isolation in forced prostitution in a quiet neighbourhood.

Because trafficking is so lucrative many people are drawn into the business, as traffickers or as employers of the trafficked persons. There are relatively few risks and the financial gains are considerable. The routes, methods and activities of traffickers are becoming increasingly more organised and there is a greater penetration of organised crime syndicates…in the trade and trafficking of women, children and men.

Undoubtedly, we need to end impunity for the heinous crime of trafficking ensuring that traffickers get their just dessert for this crime against humanity. I look forward to continuing work with relevant stakeholders, including the Vatican, the United Nations Member States, UN agencies, international, regional and sub-regional organizations, private sector, including civil society in furthering action to ending trafficking in human beings. It takes a collective to end trafficking in persons and working together we shall win the fight against this modern slavery. Importantly, we should remember that it’s zero tolerance to all forms of trafficking. No form or manifestation of human trafficking is less inhuman or degrading. Therefore, we should fight against sex trafficking, trafficking for labour exploitation, domestic servitude, trafficking for illegal adoption, servile marriage, begging and for the removal of organs with equal emphasis and resources. Slavery is slavery and should be abolished and rejected in whatever form it manifests. My final take to the key and burning question- what does it take to end the impunity of human trafficking will be real action with strategy in place, concerted efforts, cooperation, community education and awareness, global good governance, border security and promotion of safe migration not restrictive immigration policies or criminalization of irregular migrants by favoured countries. In the end, it would take- political and economic will, respect for human rights and human dignity, equal safer and better world where everyone’s right to survival and development is guaranteed- de jure and de facto. We can all contribute in making that happen. I’m extremely grateful for His Holiness, Pope Francis for his leadership on this and for the visit to  Lampedusa that spotlighted the plights of irregular migrants and victims of human trafficking. Furthermore, I appreciate the role of the Catholic Church especially in providing assistance and support services towards victims’ recovery and empowerment necessary to avoid their being re-trafficked or  re-victimized.

Thank you all for listening! And May God help us to succeed in Jesus name. Amen.

Biography of the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children

Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, Ph.D. (Nig.), LLM (London), LL.B. (Nig.), BL, Diploma, Peace & Conflict Res (Uppsala). Dr. Ezeilo is an activist and versatile legal scholar recognized as a leading authority in the field of human rights, especially on the rights of women and children. She teaches Law at the Department of Public and Private Law, Faculty of Law, University of Nigeria and pioneered, since 1997,  the teaching of the Course, “Women, Children and the Law”  making her Faculty and University the first to do so.  She was appointed in 2008 as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children, and currently serves in that capacity globally. She is also the founding director of WomenAid Collective (WACOL), a national organization that promotes human rights of women and young people. She was a former Commissioner for Gender and Social Development, Enugu State, a federal delegate to the National Political Reform Conference and currently serves as a member of the Governing Council, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA). Joy Ezeilo is a recipient of the prestigious British Chevening scholarship (1995) and a grantee of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Funds for Leadership Development (1998). She has also received several national and international awards, including being conferred with the national honour of Officer of the Order of Niger (OON) in 2006 by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo (GCFR) in recognition of her outstanding contributions in the area of nation building, legal scholarship, advocacy, civil society movement and community service. Dr. Ezeilo is a visiting professor to several universities, especially in North America and a regent Professor, University of California, Riverside (2001). As a legal practitioner, barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, she takes on human rights cases on a pro bono basis, representing poor and vulnerable women and young people. She has delivered public lectures around the world on human rights, human trafficking, gender, peace, democracy and good governance, and has published extensively in similar areas of law. She has served as a consultant/trainer in human rights, gender issues, HIV/AIDS, governance and conflict resolution to many international and national organizations, including National Judicial Institute (NJI), UNDP, UN Women, UNICEF, MacAthur Foundation, UNFPA, ILO, DFID, EU, etc.

Her recent publications include: Women, Law and Human Rights: National and Global Perspectives (2011), Nigerian and Cameroun: The Bakassi Dispute, NJR, 2002-2010; Human Rights Documents Relevant to Women and Children’s Rights in Nigeria (2008), Feminism and Islamic Fundamentalism: Some Perspectives from Nigeria and Beyond SIGNS of Women, Culture & Society, Journal Autumn 2006 issue (vol.32, no. 1) Feminism and Human Rights at Crossroads in Africa? Reconciling Universalism and Cultural Relativism (See Pages 231-252). A Chapter in the book Difference and Dialogue: Feminism Challenges Globalization Edited by Marguerite R. Waller and Sylvia Marcos Palgrave: Macmillan (Comparative Feminist Studies) New York, USA 2005.  Also, Amazons Go to War Without Weapon: Women and the Conflict in Escravos, Niger –Delta a chapter in the Book: Wages of Empire- Neoliberal Policy Repression and Women’s Poverty. She co-edited the book Engendering Human Rights, Cultural and Economic Realities in Africa published by Palgrave, Macmillan (2005) and has authored over forty (40) publications including books and journal articles.

In April, 2013 she was recognized by Newsweek/Daily Beast International Magazine, USA as one of the 125 women of impact in the world for her work, especially in combating human trafficking--a modern day slavery. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo is high Chief in Igboland and she’s popularly called – triple Chief, that is Ochendo, Ada eji eje mba, and Nze bu na chi.

Contact information
For more information on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, please visit her website:

Email to get in touch with, including submitting information for urgent appeals and letters of allegation, to the Special Rapporteur:
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1. Quoted in “Trafficking in Children; West and Central Africa” a report published by the U.S. Department of State Bureau for African Affairs in cooperation with Office of International Information Programs.

2.  See also ILO, A Global Alliance Against Forced Labour, 2005, p. 14.

3. Ibid.

4. A//65/288) and. A/HRC/20/18. See also E/2002/68/Add.1

5. The MDGs which forms part of the Millennium Declaration was signed by 189 countries, including 147 heads of State and Government. Meeting the Millennium Development Goals in Nigeria : UNDP Nigeria Country Office ::... –

6. OHCHR, “Claiming the Millennium Development Goals…”, p. 11.