Joining the Fight Against Human Trafficking

Vol. 42 No. 4


Gabrielle M. Buckley (gmbuckley@vedderprice. com), chair of the Section of International Law, is a share-holder in the Chicago office of Vedder Price. She heads the firm’s Business Immigration practice.

It is hard for many of us to believe that, in this day and age, human trafficking is such a vast, pervasive problem around the world. It is even harder to believe that so much goes on within the United States. UNICEF estimates that human trafficking produces $6.2 billion in revenue annually—more than the gross domestic product of over 75 countries. This issue touches all of our lives, and in many ways. We see it arise, for example, in the context of our work as legal practitioners and in our activities as consumers of goods that may have been produced by child or slave labor.

The articles in this issue of International Law News evidence the breadth of expertise of our members in this area. They span a number of relevant topics of interest to, not only human rights lawyers, but all of us. Prosecutors and defense attorneys, in-house compliance counsel, and the attorneys who advise them should all take note. These articles highlight the role of lawyers in fighting human trafficking, the compliance obligations of in-house counsel combating supply-chain slavery issues, country-specific trafficking issues, and methods for actually securing justice in these difficult cases.

Former ABA President Laurel Bellows’s article notes that new anti-trafficking laws have been implemented in a number of jurisdictions, many based on the United Nations Trafficking in Persons Protocol. The Protocol is organized around the “3P Paradigm” that protects victims, enables prosecution of traffickers, and helps prevent modern slavery.

Without the efforts of the legal profession, these laws alone will not achieve the goals of the Protocol.

The ABA Section of International Law has long been a leader in rule-of-law and international human rights issues. In fact, we were the first ABA section to appoint a rule of law officer. A number of our committees develop programs, publications, and policies dealing with these issues. Our International Human Rights Committee is the leader in these efforts, but this issue touches other committees as well. The International Labor & Employment Committee, International Criminal Law Committee, Corporate Social Responsibility Committee, International Family Law Committee, and International Refugee Law Committee are among the committees whose activities include fighting human trafficking. The ABA has also developed a tool kit for legal professionals, Voices for Victims: Lawyers Against Human Trafficking, to help attorneys facilitate the enforcement of anti-trafficking laws (

I am sure that you will be as inspired by these articles as I am to consider how we can use our skills to help fight this terrible scourge.


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