This module is a resource for lecturers  




Civil society (CS) makes a significant contribution to combating trafficking in persons and providing assistance and support to victims. It often supplements the role played by government and works in collaboration with it.

The principal groups within civil society working in this sector are:

  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), usually in the form of charitable trusts or foundations, which engage in anti-trafficking initiatives, community development and victim support activities;
  • The media;
  • Academic institutions;
  • Religious institutions.

Although not per se part of the civil society, the business sector (e.g. airlines, hotels, banks) also plays an important role that will be examined in this Module.

Broadly speaking, civil society engages in a wide range of anti-trafficking activities, including awareness-raising, community economic development and capacity-building, identification and interviewing victims of trafficking, assisting and supporting victims of trafficking (including providing shelter and protection), providing legal assistance, medical care, counselling, education and vocational training, assisting with repatriation and reintegration support, helping law enforcement agencies to collate and analyze evidence, and undertaking advocacy and research. Civil society is a critical partner in prevention, protection and prosecution efforts, particularly in less wealthy countries which depend on NGOs, in particular, to provide services beyond the funding capacity of the State.

Civil society also includes the general public. The public can contribute to anti-trafficking efforts or, at the very least, avoid compounding the problem through purchasing decisions and by avoiding sexual services or hiring domestic workers under exploitative conditions.

This Module commences by examining international obligations imposed on States to cooperate with civil society actors working in the counter-trafficking sector. Next, it describes the contributions made by each of the five groups within civil society listed above. It concludes with a discussion of the contribution individuals can make.


Learning outcomes

  • Understand the benefits of States to cooperate with civil society
  • Understand the contribution of civil society in countering trafficking in persons, including:
    • NGOs
    • The media
    • Academic institutions
    • Religious institutions
    • The business sector
    • Members of the public.
Next: Key issues
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