Modeling the Effectiveness of the International Anti-Sex Trafficking Regime

By
Social Network Diagram of Signatories to The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children
Modeling the Effectiveness of the International Anti-Sex Trafficking Regime - Kathleen McGlynn

Modeling the Effectiveness of the International Anti-Sex Trafficking Regime

International sex trafficking is a confounding and complex global phenomenon.  The US Department of Health and Human Services defines sex trafficking as “a modern-day form of slavery in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years”. The US government estimates that between 600,000-800,000 women fall victim to international human trafficking each year. These figures remain high despite efforts by the international anti-sex trafficking regime’s work to inhibit human trafficking on a global level.

Regime theory argues that international institutions or regimes influence states’ interactions. In his book International Regimes, Steven Krasner explains that regimes are exemplified where “principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actor expectations converge in a given issue-area”. The international community first introduced laws against the involuntary selling of human beings in 1815 with the implementation of the Declaration Relative to the Universal Abolition of the Slave Trade, and from 1815-1957 approximately 300 documents were issued to condemn slavery. The first laws specifically aimed at combating modern-day slavery, the trafficking of human persons, were implemented 43 years later when the United Nations adopted the “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking, Especially Women and Children” in 2000. With the exposure provided by the United Nations, many countries began to recognize sex trafficking as an international quandary and work cohesively to limit its existence. Using Krasner’s definition, we can characterize these nations working in tandem as an ‘international anti-sex trafficking regime’.

Regimes influence the interaction of states and place political pressure upon them. Thus under regime theory, I hypothesize that as more states become signatories to an international agreement, additional states will feel compelled to also become signatories. The following model depicts state signatories to one specific anti-trafficking document, the 2000 Protocol, supplementing “The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC Trafficking Protocol). States’ behavior toward signing this document shows simplified effects and characteristics of the ‘international anti-sex trafficking regime’ on the global community.

The CTOC Trafficking Protocol outlines “principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures” for prosecution of traffickers and treatment of domestic and international victims. It also shows the how regimes are dynamic as they can change with new member signatories.

Social Network Analysis in Support of Regime Theory

The diagram below depicts specific dates that states signed The Prevention Protocol supplementing CTOC Trafficking Protocol. Each of the blue nodes represents a state signatory. For visual simplicity, the black nodes denote a given day when the document was signed. For example, 26 states signed the CTOC Trafficking Protocol on the first day, 12 December 2000, shown in the upper left corner of the diagram. 

The length of the arrows is used to indicate the amount of time elapsed between days that states signed the document. The upper-most black node, representing 12 December 2000, is very close to the next black node. That node represents 13 December 2000, the following day. However, between the fourth and fifth nodes, the arrows are much longer. The fourth black node represents 15 December 2000, and the fifth node occurs nearly a month later on 8 January 2000.

Figure 1: Social Network Diagram of Signatories to The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children supplementing The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime[1]


Notice that the diagram seems to contain some very cluttered areas, while others areas seem very open. This indicates that many states did sign the document around the same time as other states, supporting my hypothesis. Between 12-15 December 2000, 77 states signed the CTOC Trafficking Protocol. 

For the next 10 months, there were only nine additional signatories, until 11 November 2001 when eight states signed the document in just five days. Again, there were only 11 additional state signatures between 15 November 2001 and 8 December 2002. Between 9 December 2002 and 12 December 2002, there were seven additional signatories in four days.  These patterns are likely to be due to pressure exerted by the ‘international anti-sex trafficking regime’. 

In summary, this simplified diagram supports the hypothesis that as more states become signatories to an international agreement, additional states will feel international political pressure by the regime to also become signatories. As such, social network analysis seems to be a useful tool for modeling the effectiveness of the international anti-sex trafficking regime’s role in exerting pressure on the global community. International sex trafficking is a complex international issue; modeling such phenomenon via social network analysis can help simplify complex and intricate problems into concrete and understandable visuals.