The concept of exploitation in international human trafficking law

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http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201705304319
Title: The concept of exploitation in international human trafficking law
Author: von der Pütten, Tuija Kaarina
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Oikeustieteellinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law
Helsingfors universitet, Juridiska fakulteten
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2017
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201705304319
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/191313
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Kansainvälinen oikeus
International law
Folkrätt
Abstract: Human trafficking is commonly known as a criminal practice that takes place in the framework of sex trade: women and children are trafficked within a state, or from one state to another, for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Similarly, the early 20th century international conventions aimed to tackle ‘white slave traffic’, trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation. However, it is misleading to see trafficking only within this context. People are trafficked so that they can be exploited in sweatshops, for agricultural labour, domestic labour, forced marriage, begging, or for harvesting their organs. Exploitation, thus, can take place in any socio-economic sector where labour or services are expected from people, and national and international laws have adopted various approaches to tackle these issues. This thesis investigates the foundations of the legal concept of exploitation, as it is currently understood to be a part of international human trafficking law. It is interested in explaining how the concept of exploitation has changed over time to serve different purposes. As a central element of the trafficking definition, the concept of exploitation has caused a lot of debate among legal theorists and practitioners. This debate demonstrates that there in fact does not exist one single definition of exploitation, but multiple understandings derived from different histories and contexts. The concept has encompassed different exploitative practices at different times and changed its meaning to fit various purposes at a given time, therefore reflecting and supporting a range of positions and interpretations of politicians, legal practitioners or the judiciary. The concept’s ambiguity and categorical nature relates to the pragmatic benefits of flexibility in a political arena where competing perspectives must be negotiated to find a global consensus. Also, the content of the concept of exploitation is not independent of the real-world exploitative practices and because these practices change, the concept needs to carry a certain level of ambiguity to be able to take into consideration various circumstances. This thesis uses descriptive conceptual analysis and conceptual history to trace down the categories that fall under the concept of exploitation, and secondly, to locate the social and historical factors and contexts that produced a certain meaning for the concept. The categories within the concept of exploitation currently encompass ‘exploitation of others for prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation’, ‘forced labour or services’, ‘slavery or practices similar to slavery’, ‘servitude’, and ‘removal or organs’. This list was brought forward by the Trafficking Protocol in 2000, and as I argue, marks the point at which the concept of exploitation was fully conceptualised and became a legal-historical meta-concept. In the European context, the EU Directive 2011/36/EU has further expanded the categories that fall under the concept of exploitation, with those of ‘forced begging’ and the ‘exploitation of criminal activities’, and thus is a more recent attempt to respond to contemporary problems. In the last part of this thesis, I examine the benefits of descriptive conceptual analysis.


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