Model Legislative Provisions Against Trafficking In Persons

Model Legislative Provisions Against Trafficking In Persons

Model Legislative Provisions Against Trafficking In Persons

In 2009, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) published the Model Law against Trafficking in Persons in response to the request of the General Assembly to promote and support the ratification of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (“Trafficking in Persons Protocol”) by Member States. At the end of 2009, there were 135 States Parties to the Protocol; at the end of 2020, there were 178 States Parties to the Protocol. Despite the fact that the Trafficking in Persons Protocol is approaching universal ratification, there remains an ongoing need for implementation, and guidance to support such efforts. This revised document, the Model Legislative Provisions against Trafficking in Persons, is one way that UNODC supports Member States to better understand and apply the Trafficking in Persons Protocol.

Trafficking in persons remains a crime of significant concern, driven by underlying socio-economic and security factors, affecting the majority of countries worldwide. Trafficking in persons is endemic, impacting millions of people and generating billions of dollars in illicit revenue on an annual basis. Simultaneously, the realities of trafficking in persons continue to evolve as do the practices employed by traffickers. Accordingly, legislators from around the world must remain vigilant and constantly assess the efficacy of their anti-trafficking efforts.


The development of a single and comprehensive document that can be used by legislators with different legal systems, constitutional frameworks, and social, political, economic and cultural frameworks is challenging. Nevertheless, policy makers and legislators may find this as a useful reference tool as they draft, amend or re-view their relevant legislation.

The aim of this document is not to provide a “one-size-fits-all” or comprehensive set of provisions that can simply be replicated into domestic law. Rather, the model provisions and related commentary are designed to provide general guidance, along with relevant examples from different countries from around the world, of the major aspects of the Trafficking in Persons Protocol which can be implemented legislatively. When doing so, legislators must ensure that the proposed changes are drafted in a manner that reflects not only their obligations but also the core policy objectives reflected in the relevant articles of the Protocol. At the same time, national legislation has to be informed by and developed in a manner that reflects each State’s legal traditions and social, economic, cultural and geographic conditions. Simply copying either text from the Trafficking in Persons Protocol or the Model Legislative Provisions will likely be insufficient and may, unintentionally, impede efforts to effectively address this crime.

Parts of this document are presented in a way that might suggest the provisions are part of a stand-alone anti-trafficking statute. There is, however, no requirement that anti-trafficking provisions be contained in a distinct statute and many countries incorporate anti-trafficking provisions into existing statutes. Indeed, it may be preferable to incorporate provisions into existing legislation rather than create new stand-alone instruments. Whatever approach is taken, legislators should ensure that all provisions are harmonized with the existing domestic legal system. A failure to do so risks creating confusion and can undermine the efficiency and effectiveness of the justice system.

The Model Legislative Provisions should not be relied upon in isolation to support the development of domestic anti-trafficking responses. It is important to note that the Trafficking in Persons Protocol supplements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and should be interpreted together with the Convention. Further, UNODC has produced a number of additional tools to support implementation of the Protocol. In particular, the Model Legislative Provisions should be read in conjunction with the revised Legislative Guide for the Implementation of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (“Legislative Guide”). The Legislative Guide provides detailed information, including on the negotiations of the Trafficking in Persons Protocol and, when read together with the model legislative provisions, provides comprehensive information to support the implementation of the Trafficking in Persons Protocol at the national level. Additional information can also be found in various issue papers and other additional UNODC tools, which are included below under the section Other Relevant Tools.

The development of clear and comprehensive laws to address trafficking in persons provides a foundation for national action. At the same time, laws are only effective if their implementation is supported through robust, ongoing and concerted capacity strengthening among those responsible for responding to trafficking in persons. The responsibility for capacity building rests with the State, though many entities will play a role. Capacity building encompasses many elements, including training, resource allocation and skills development.

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