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Human Trafficking




Admission requirements

  • Class of 2017: International Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law.

  • Classes of 2013-2016: a 200/300-level IJ/GJ course, ideally International Human Rights or International Humanitarian Law.

Course description

Human trafficking – 21st century slavery – has been identified in more than 180 countries around the world. Much has been documented concerning the exploitation of women and children in the sex industry, but little attention has been given to labor exploitation in other industries or to other forms of human trafficking such as the exploitation of child soldiers, mail order brides or persons for the purpose of harvesting their organs.

This course will examine the definition of human trafficking to come to a full understanding of how human trafficking is defined and the difficulties in measuring the problem. The course explores the different perspectives from which we can examine trafficking – as a criminal justice and organized crime problem, but also from the perspective of supply and demand, a business model, human rights, immigration, poverty and gender inequality.

We will examine which persons are more likely to fall prey to traffickers and how the trafficking experience impacts their lives, health and safety. Further study will focus on the traffickers – who they are and what is known about their modus operandi, how they recruit, transport and exploit their victims, but also how they protect their operations.

Global patterns of trafficking and new forms of trafficking will be discussed: organ trafficking and the use of child soldiers, and whether or not child pornography, child sex tourism, mail order brides and illegal adoptions are forms of human trafficking.

The course ends with a discussion of organizations that are active in the fight against human trafficking and what measures – from prevention, victim protection, prosecution and partnerships – are necessary to eradicate human trafficking.

Weekly overview

Week 1 Defining Human Trafficking & Measures of Human Trafficking: Researching the Phenomenon
Week 2 Theoretical Perspectives
Week 3 Patterns of Human Trafficking in Different Regions of the World
Week 4 Victims of Human Trafficking
Week 5 The Traffickers
Week 6 Hidden Forms of, and New Opportunities for Trafficking
Week 7 Measures to Prevent Human Trafficking

Learning objectives

  • an understanding of (perspectives to explain) human trafficking: how this differs from smuggling;

  • knowledge of methods to determine the extent of human trafficking and the difficulty in accurately measuring the phenomenon;

  • insight into patterns of trafficking, the victims and the markets in which they are exploited in different countries and regions of the world;

  • knowledge of the process of trafficking – from individual traffickers to networks and organized criminal enterprises;

  • a deeper understanding of less common forms of human trafficking;
    insight into strategies to prevent human trafficking and aid trafficked victims.

Mode of instruction

The course is taught in seminar format, including lectures, documentaries, class discussion and student presentations. The course draws upon the fields of criminology, human rights, criminal law, gender studies, sociology and psychology and students are encouraged to discuss human trafficking from their academic perspective. Additionally, due to the international student body at LUC, students are encouraged to study and discuss the human trafficking phenomenon in their own countries.

A number of documentaries will be shown; students will have to write short papers on the documentaries, which will be discussed in following class meeting. If experts (EUROPOL, NGO) are available, these will be invited to provide a guest lecture to the students.


In-class participation
Ongoing Weeks 1-7

Written assignments on documentary films
Ongoing Weeks 1-7

Weeks 4-7

Final exam
Week 8

Compulsory textbook

Aronowitz, Alexis A., Human Trafficking, Human Misery: The Global Trade in Human Beings, Praeger Publishers: Westport, Conn., 2009.
Aronowitz, Alexis A., Human Trafficking, Human Misery: The Global Trade in Human Beings, Scarecrow Press (subsidiary of Rowman and Littlefield): Reprint edition (May 16, 2013).

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 2012,

Other articles will be made available via Blackboard or can be found on the internet.

Contact information

Alexis A. Aronowitz, PhD
University College Utrecht

Preparation for first session

Students should have read the following assignments to be prepared for the first day of class:

Aronowitz: Human Trafficking, Human Misery, Chapter 1

United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing The United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (2000);