Trafficking and smuggling

Due out June 2020

Deadline for submission of articles: 17th February 2020

We published an FMR issue in 2006 looking at the impact of trafficking on individuals and communities worldwide. Since then increased reporting of both trafficking and smuggling has triggered renewed attention around the growing impact of, and the links between, these related – but distinct – phenomena.* This latest issue of FMR will explore developments in this field.

We are looking for concise, pertinent, practice-oriented, challenging articles that present analysis, lessons and good practice with wide relevance. In particular, the FMR Editors are looking for submissions that reflect a diverse range of experience and opinions and which address questions such as the following:


  • What can be learned from interventions that have been effective in preventing trafficking?
  • What knowledge gaps exist in relation to understanding the links between displacement and vulnerability to trafficking? How can these gaps be addressed?
  • Which specific challenges are presented by trafficking which takes place within international borders? In these contexts, how do approaches to prevention and response differ from those in relation to trafficking across borders?


Identifying and protecting

  • What challenges arise in identifying victims of trafficking and how can these be tackled? What needs exist in terms of capacity building and resourcing and have certain approaches proved more successful than others?
  • What can be learned from instances of best practice in relation to the protection and/or return of those who have been trafficked or smuggled, including in response to the differing needs of vulnerable groups?
  • How has civil society engaged in advocacy and practical action to protect the rights of those who have been trafficked?
  • Does the variation in legal status given to survivors of trafficking reveal a need for awareness raising among State officials of protection needs? What good practices emerge from the different approaches taken by different actors in the repatriation of trafficked returnees?
  • What approaches can be taken at local, national and international levels to tackle potential stigma, to build or rebuild livelihoods, to provide psychosocial support and to safeguard against the risks of re-trafficking?
  • What do we need to know about the role of trafficking as a means of financing conflict, and its links with State fragility and peacebuilding? And what is the role of financial institutions in tackling and interrupting trafficking and smuggling?


Analysing policies

  • What impacts does migration policy have on smuggling practice and prevalence?
  • Have the actions taken by States to pursue criminal prosecution under anti-smuggling legislation of local citizens assisting refugees to cross State borders had specific impacts on assistance and protection?
  • Are State-led attempts to disrupt smuggling networks accompanied by parallel efforts to offer an alternative – that is, to establish safe passage for refugees and migrants?  


Applying approaches and initiatives

  • What approaches and initiatives are being developed/implemented in response to the challenges posed by evolving trends and patterns in trafficking and smuggling operations?
  • How are international instruments to combat human trafficking being applied – such as the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and its two Protocols against Trafficking and Smuggling; the Council of Europe’s Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, the Saarc Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution and the 2014 Protocol to the International Labour Organization’s Forced Labour Convention? What are the barriers or limitations to their successful implementation?
  • What opportunities do the Global Compact for Migration and Global Compact on Refugees bring in relation to efforts to tackle both trafficking and smuggling?
  • Despite a well-ratified legal framework, a strong institutional framework, massive public awareness and sympathy, and huge resources, levels of trafficking are getting worse not better. Is a radically different approach required? If so, what contribution do new actors, including those drawn from the private sector, have to make?


* Trafficking is defined as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation…”   …By contrast, ‘smuggling’ refers to consensual transactions where the smuggler and the migrant agree to circumvent immigration control for mutually advantageous reasons. [Bhabha J and Zard M ‘Smuggled or trafficked?’, FMR 25, referring to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime’s two Protocols on Trafficking and Smuggling]

BEFORE WRITING YOUR ARTICLE: If you are interested in contributing, please email the Editors at with a few sentences about your proposed topic so that we can provide feedback and let you know if we are interested in receiving your submission.  

Please note that we have prepared a ‘thematic listing’ of most of the articles published to date in FMR focusing on ‘trafficking and smuggling’. Online at You may wish to consult this to avoid duplication. (Please do also feel free to share it with others.)

WHEN WRITING/SUBMITTING YOUR ARTICLE: Please read our guidelines for authors and ensure your article, when submitted, complies with our submission checklist: details at do not accept articles that do not comply with our checklist.

We ask all authors to give appropriate consideration to the particular relevance of their responses to persons with disabilities, to LGBTIQ+ persons, to older persons, and to other groups with specific vulnerabilities, and to seek to include a gendered approach as part of their articles. And we are particularly keen to reflect the experiences and knowledge of communities and individuals directly affected by these questions.

While we are looking for examples of good, replicable practice and experience as well as sound analysis of the issues at stake, we also urge writers to discuss failures and difficulties: what does/did not work so well, and why?

Maximum length: 2,500 words.

Please note that space is always at a premium in FMR and that published articles are usually shorter than this maximum length. Your article, if accepted for publication, may well be shortened but you will of course be consulted about any editing changes.

Deadline for submission of articles: Monday 17th February 2020

NOTE: This feature theme will be shorter than a full FMR feature as it will sit alongside a second feature theme on ‘Climate crisis and local communities’.

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Forced Migration Review
Refugee Studies Centre
Oxford Department of International Development
University of Oxford
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