Future Priorities: ICMPD blogs for EU Anti-Trafficking Day

Future Priorities: ICMPD blogs for EU Anti-Trafficking Day

Dr Sarah Kyambi

October 2016

University of Edinburgh

Marking EU Anti Trafficking Day this month DemandAT partner the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) released a three-part blog series on the Future Priorities for Anti-Trafficking in the EU.  Unsurprisingly perhaps ICMPD’s approach to the policies on trafficking is rooted firmly in engagement with the complexities of migration and migration policy.  The first two blogs discuss the relationships between migration policies and trafficking. The first discusses the need to prevent vulnerability to trafficking arising as an unintended consequence of restrictive migration policies worldwide. The second takes a broader look at the frameworks for action against trafficking globally and argues the increasing need fprtransnational co-operation - be that global, regional, multilateral or bilateral - for such actions to be effective.  Both posts show the increased inclusion of anti-trafficking measures explicitly referenced in instruments on migration, security and development, but what remains uncertain is whether these measures are coherent with the other stated objectives of those instruments.

Perhaps this difficulty arises from the continuing lack of clarity surrounding trafficking and the impacts of the measures seeking to counter it. A lack that arises from the clandestine nature of it, the shifting terminology and conceptualisation of it and the unclear status of the priority of anti-trafficking compared to the urgency of other agendas. While policymakers may accept that restrictive migration policies can lead to increased demand for the services of traffickers, there remains the quandary of how to proceed when policymakers continue to pursue both. How can we have restrictive migration policies and nevertheless seek to combat trafficking?

The research into measures addressing the demand-side of trafficking at DemandAT is one effort to come to a clearer understanding of how anti-trafficking measures work and how they can be made to work more effectively.  The hope remains that with better focus or improved targeting policymakers will be able to square the circle - or at least reduce the potential for trafficking to result from restrictive efforts in other policy areas.   Yet, as Kraler and Rogoz note in their blogpost, the concept of demand in anti-trafficking policies remains a subject of much dispute.  Its usage swings between economic understandings of demand (more or less accurately conceived) and a broader usage of demand as a synonym for ‘root causes’. They argue that ‘a coherent conceptual understanding of demand-side measures is a necessary precondition for effective and targeted interventions’. To develop clarity they note that discussion of demand in the context of trafficking needs to refer to a specified market and that ‘demand-side policies should be understood as policies that aim to influence the behaviour of consumers in a particular market, including firms or public bodies purchasing goods or services’. Within those confines, they argue, tackling demand can make an effective contribution in the fight against trafficking and can help lead the way towards smarter forms of regulation that draw on market incentives and non-coercive means to change undesirable behaviours. Nevertheless, the challenge of developing such policies remains significant given the likelihood that migration policies will continue on their restrictive bent. 

The views expressed in the blog post do not necessarily reflect the views of the DemandAT Consortium as a whole