Organ Trafficking and Migration: A Bibliometric Analysis of an Untold Story
Abstract: The debate over trafficking of human beings for the purpose of organ removal (THBOR) remains largely absent from policy debates, as its crime is hardly detected, reported and sparsely researched. However, criminal networks continue to exploit vulnerable populations, particularly migrants. To help bridge this gap in knowledge, we employ a bibliometric analysis to examine whether the nexus between organ removal and migration is being addressed by the current academic literature. Our results indicate that (1) research exploring the link between THBOR and migrants is relatively scarce; (2) organ trafficking literature output is largely clustered in a couple of Western
countries, and (3) despite the international nature of the topic, most empirical studies on organ trafficking and migration lack representation within the social sciences and humanities. Taken together, our results point to a huge gap on scientific publications between THBOR and migration. Quantitative data is required to lift the current knowledge constraints and better inform policymakers.
The trafficking of human beings for the purpose of organ removal (THBOR) is not a new
phenomenon . With a shortage of legally sourced organs around the world, it is estimated that the illegal trade of human organs generates about 1.5 billion dollars each year from roughly 12,000 illegal transplants . THBOR has serious consequences for human security, particularly for the most vulnerable populations, such as the unemployed, homeless people and migrants. For instance, in 2017, a growing number of organ trafficking cases was uncovered in Lebanon, as Syrian refugees were to support themselves and their families . Since the Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have begun to provide rough estimates about THBOR, and yet, little academic attention has been devoted to the study of such a global phenomenon . In 2004, the WHO urged governments to take measures against organ trafficking and protect those who are the most vulnerable. Such eorts culminated with the Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism, where more than 150 scientific researchers from 78 different countries concluded that commercialized transplants, organ trafficking, and transplant tourism should be prohibited . In this paper, we aim to shed light upon the current state of the literature on: (1) THBOR and (2) its relationship to migrants. We employ a bibliometric analysis with a global sample for the 1990–2019 period, to find the current trends and shortcomings in the literature.