UNODC and Walk Free Foundation sign MoU to estimate the extent of trafficking in persons


As today is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, it is timely that UNODC and Walk Free Foundation announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that will enable the organizations to work together to estimate the number of victims of human trafficking in an initial four countries.

While many think slavery is a relic of the past, unfortunately in 2016, criminals continue to find new ways to exploit the vulnerable, and extract their labour or services by force. Whether this takes the form of the sexual enslavement of women in conflict areas, exploitation through forced labour on board fishing vessels, trafficking for begging or any of the other myriad forms countries have reported, this crime is alive and well.

Drawing on work undertaken by both organisations to pioneer new ways to measure these hidden crimes, the organisations will work using a common methodology and team, to develop estimates of human trafficking for an initial four countries. This will provide sorely needed data on human trafficking at the national level. It will also build knowledge about how to measure this hidden crime. Both of these aspects are critical to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The methodology is known as “multiple systems estimation”. This uses an adaptation of the statistical method ‘capture-recapture’, commonly used to estimate the size of an unknown population. The methodology has more recently been applied in the Netherlands. Using this methodology, it is estimated that there are between 10,000 to 13,000 victims of modern slavery in the United Kingdom, and more than 17,000 in the Netherlands.