UNODC Model Law on Trafficking in Persons


The UNODC Model Law against Trafficking in Persons was developed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in response to the request of the General Assembly to the Secretary-General to promote and assist the efforts of Member States to become party to and implement the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto. It was developed in particular to assist States in implementing the provisions contained in the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing that Convention.

The Model Law will both facilitate and help systematize provision of legislative assistance by UNODC as well as facilitate review and amendment of existing legislation and adoption of new legislation by States themselves. It is designed to be adaptable to the needs of each State, whatever its legal tradition and social, economic, cultural and geographical conditions.

The Model Law contains all the provisions that States are required or recommended to introduce into their domestic legislation by the Protocol. The distinction between mandatory and optional provisions is indicated in the commentary to the law. This distinction is not made with regard to the general provisions and the definitions, as they are an integral part of the Model Law, but are not mandated by the Protocol per se. Recommended provisions may also stem from other international instruments. Whenever appropriate or necessary, several options for language are suggested in order to reflect the differences between legal cultures.

The commentary also indicates the source of the provision and, in some cases, supplies alternatives to the suggested text or examples of national legislation from various countries (in unofficial translation where necessary). Due regard is also given to the interpretative notes for the travaux préparatoires of the Protocol and the legislative guides for the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto.

It should be emphasized that matters related to international cooperation in criminal matters, as well as crimes of participation in an organized criminal group, corruption, obstruction or justice and money-laundering, which often accompany human trafficking activities, are contained in the “parent“ Convention. It is therefore essential that the Trafficking in Persons Protocol provisions be read and applied together with the provisions of the Convention and that domestic legislation be developed to implement not only the Protocol but also the Convention. In addition, it is of particular importance that any legislation on trafficking in persons be in line with a State’s constitutional principles, the basic concepts of its legal system, its existing legal structure and enforcement  arrangements, and that definitions used in such legislation on trafficking in persons be consistent with similar definitions used in other laws. The Model Law is not meant to be incorporated as a whole without a careful review of the whole legislative context of a given State. In that respect, the Model Law cannot stand alone and domestic legislation implementing the Convention is essential for it to be effective.

The work on the UNODC Model Law against Trafficking in Persons has been carried out by the Organized Crime and Criminal Justice Section of the Division for Treaty Affairs in cooperation with the Anti-Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Unit of the Division for Operations and the Statistics and Surveys Section of the Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs. Two consultant drafters, Marjan Wijers and Roelof Haveman, assisted UNODC. A group of experts in the field of human trafficking, from a variety of legal and geographical backgrounds met to discuss and review the draft of the Model Law.

Download File: