TCD hosts major International Conference on Human Trafficking

Posted on: 03 July 2007

European Slave Trade: Character, Causes & Challenges

A major international conference entitled ‘European Slave Trade: Character, Causes & Challenges’ was held in Trinity College Dublin on 3 – 5 July last with a key note address by world renowned film producer and UNESCO consultant Dr. David Feingold and official opening remarks by the Provost, Dr John Hegarty. The conference marked the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade act in 1807.

Hosted by Trinity College Dublin and organised by its Irish School of Ecumenics and Ireland En Route (an umbrella organisation representing NGOs, Gardai, relevant Health Authority units and academics, concerned about human trafficking for sexual exploitation into Ireland), the conference was the first of its kind to be hosted in Ireland and focused on slavery in Europe today, specifically trafficking in people for sexual and labour exploitation and how this can best be combated through legal and political frameworks.

Among the number of esteemed International speakers were Dr Kevin Bales (one of the world’s leading experts on modern-day slavery and currently director of Free the Slaves, a U.S. based anti-slavery organisation), Dr. Monika Smit (senior researcher at the Bureau of the Dutch National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings), Stana Buckowska, BA, MA (one of the co-founders of La Strada, Poland. Stana has extensive experience working with trafficked women in Central and Eastern Europe) and Bridget Anderson (Senior Researcher and Programme Head at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, Oxford University).

According to Ms. Anderson: “In my paper I argue that there are systemic contradictions in policy regarding the problem of trafficking, in particular the emphasis on immigration controls as the principle response can undermine human rights and actively increase the power and control of exploitative people over migrants.”

Amongst the Irish speakers and panellists were Dr. Maurice Manning (President of the Irish Human Rights Commission), Simon Coveney TD, Ivana Bacik, BL, FTCD, (Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology, TCD), Suzanne Egan, Commissioner, Irish Human Rights Commission and Professor Ronaldo Munck, BA, PhD, (Theme Leader in the Internationalisation, Interculturalism and Social Development Department at DCU).

Professor Ronaldo Munck, who delivered a paper entitled “Globalisation and Unfree Labour: Anomaly or New Normality?” said: “Globalisation represents a certain culmination of capitalism’s spreading across the world and a deepening of the rule of the market across all areas of social life. In terms of the possible emergence of a global labour market, the IMF estimates that the effective global labour force has risen fourfold over the last two decades (IMF 2007: 161).”

The conference was sponsored by the Irish School of Ecumenics Trust, the Irish Human Rights Commission, the Institute for International Integration Studies, Trinity College Dublin, Kiltegan Fathers, Mercy Justice, Arthur Cox, Solicitors, O’Donnell Sweeney, Solicitors and A&L Goodbody, Solicitors.

Dr. monika smit, bureau of the dutch national rapporteur on trafficking in human beings, dr. kevin bales, director of free the slaves, us, bridget anderson, centre on migration, policy and society, oxford university, and dr. david feingold, director and international coordinator for trafficking and hiv/aids in the office of the regional advisor for culture, unesco