Human trafficking enslaves nearly 21 million people worldwide at any given time and can take many forms, including commercial sexual exploitation, forced and bonded labor, forced child labor, forced begging, domestic servitude, trafficking in persons for the purpose of organ removal, and unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers. The hallmark of trafficking is commercial exploitation through force, fraud, or coercion (unless the person is a minor in commercial sex, which is presumed trafficking as minors cannot consent). While movement across international borders is not required for someone to qualify as a trafficking victim, victims in the OSCE region come from both within the region and every corner of the world.
Since the 1990s, members of the Helsinki Commission have been active in combating human trafficking. Former Helsinki Commission Chair Chris Smith first raised the issue at the 1999 St. Petersburg Annual Session, and has since introduced or cosponsored a supplementary item or amendments on trafficking to committee resolutions at each annual session of the OSCE PA, including on issues such as the prevention of child-sex tourism, training of the transportation sector (particularly airlines) in victim identification and reporting, private sector responsibility for trafficking-free supply chains, special protections for vulnerable populations, government accountability for choosing trafficking-free suppliers and contractors, and and combating sexual exploitation of children. Since 2004, Rep. Smith has also served as Special Representative on Human Trafficking Issues to the President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
Staff Contact: Janice Helwig, senior policy advisor