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In December 2017, an Australian Federal committee tabled a report calling for a wide sweeping suite of new laws to target modern slavery and human trafficking, on the model of the UK's 2015 Modern Slavery Act. If enacted, these new laws would be the latest in more than a century of Australian involvement in the international legal struggle against trafficking. These began with early agreements again 'white slavery' in 1899, 1904 and 1910, continued through the League of Nations efforts to stop the 'traffic in women', and have evolved through the the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the supplementary Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
Some activists and scholars contend that these international legal frameworks have had little effect in stemming the abuses we associate with trafficking or modern slavery. They question whether the legal framework around modern slavery is capable of addressing the problems of exclusionary migration regimes or poor labour protections that they argue foster exploitation. Conversely, others argue that, while imperfect, legislation like the Modern Slavery Act is our best weapon for protecting potential victims. This panel will bring together experts on trafficking's past and present to think about what has worked and what hasn't, and whether we need to reframe our approach to trafficking in order to achieve justice for the world's most vulnerable.
This event was held at the University of Sydney on Wednesday 11 April 2018. There is no podcast for this event.