Examining the promise and delivery of sustainable development goals in addressing human trafficking and modern slavery

Sanja Milivojevic, Bodean Hedwards, Marie Segrave

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


This chapter considers the impetus for the inclusion of labour rights and secure work rights, with a particular focus on countering human trafficking and what is now widely known as ‘modern slavery’ in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs comprise 17 goals and 169 targets set to assist nation states in achieving sustainable development in the ‘five P’ areas: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership. In this chapter we analyse goals and targets that focus on modern slavery and adult human trafficking (in particular sex trafficking and trafficking for forced labour), and review the SDGs in the context of existing international counter-trafficking and slavery mechanisms. We consider what this novel framework has to offer when it comes to addressing these forms of exploitation. In so doing, the chapter considers the likely impact of the SDGs to preventing and countering these exploitative practices, and its potential usefulness within the broader spectrum of counter-trafficking/slavery mechanisms. We suggest that the SDGs are yet another international instrument that makes strong rhetorical commitments to the intersections of labour, migration and exploitation, but lacks clarity and operational strength it needs to lead the path in reduction, if not elimination of such exploitative practices. Finally, we analyse the extent to which this instrument continues to ignore the factors that contribute to or sustain the conditions for exploitation, namely the impact of migration policies and the gendered nature of the issue.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Emerald Handbook of Crime, Justice and Sustainable Development
EditorsJarrett Blaustein, Kate Fitz-Gibbon, Nathan W. Pino, Rob White
Place of PublicationBingley UK
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781787693555, 9781787693579
ISBN (Print)9781787693562
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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