Human Trafficking and Slavery Reconsidered. Conceptual Limits and States' Positive Obligations.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The support for the fight against ‘human trafficking’ has evolved rapidly and comprehensively. There has been, however, no overarching critical evaluation of the efforts to make ‘human trafficking’ a focus of international law. The study addresses this gap and questions the usefulness of the international law definition of human trafficking and the legal framework built around this definition. It shows how by moving to the concept of human trafficking, the international community side-lined the older and more established human rights law concepts of slavery, servitude and forced labour, a development urgently requiring rectification.
I propose two steps to reverse these negative developments. The first is to address the terminological confusion and the definitional indeterminacy that surround the concepts of human trafficking, slavery, servitude and forced labour in international law. In relation to this, the study shows that the concept of human trafficking is ineffective. Thus the study seeks to place renewed emphasis on the human rights law concepts of slavery, servitude or forced labour and to determine their definitional scopes. The second step implies clearer understanding of states’ positive human rights obligations flowing from the human trafficking and the human rights legal frameworks. In this regard, the study demonstrates the values and the limitations of both frameworks, while at the same time maintaining that the way forward is to work within the human rights system.
These objectives are addressed from the perspective of European law with focus on the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Human Trafficking and Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The relevant EU law is also considered.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Law


  • servitude, slavery, human trafficking, forced labour, Council of Europe Convention on Action against Human Trafficking, European Convention on Human Rights, positive obligations
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • Gregor Noll, Supervisor
  • Johanna Niemi, Supervisor
Award date2015 Apr 20
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2015-04-20 Time: 10:15 Place: Pufendorfsalen External reviewer(s) Name: Costello, Cathryn Title: Professor Affiliation: Oxford University ---