This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Defining the Phenomenon: Trafficking in Persons, Advocate Organizations and Issue Framing




Davis, Tameka

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Political Science


The modern era of Trafficking in Persons (TIP)—beginning with the African Slave Trade (AST)—has seen an alarming increase in the number of victims of the phenomenon. Contemporary TIP (cTIP) is a result of the increased capability for human migration, advances in technology and persistent social iniquities. Reminiscent of the AST, cTIP has become an integral part of the global agenda and has engendered competition between nongovernmental organizational stakeholders (NGO) in the process to define TIP for the new millennium. This exploratory study examines the question: "How does the constellation of stakeholders involved in cTIP policy advocacy affect how the phenomenon is defined,’’ focusing on the current position of cTIP NGOs 15 years after the adoption of the UN Palermo Protocol. Problem definition is important to the policy process as defining of a problem bounds that problem and limits the potential policy responses. This research utilizes a mixed methodological approach. The findings of the study indicate that cTIP stakeholders regard the Palermo Protocol definition of cTIP as the best definition of the phenomenon. Though stakeholders were generally in support of the UN definition of cTIP, the organizations also engender a view that there are areas of improvement, namely: better implementation of current policy; greater attention to types/forms of cTIP; addressing the contributing social inequities; and establishment and maintenance of an effective social safety-net. An additional finding of this exploratory study is the need for further research on the diffusion of social policy ideas from the micro levels of nation states to the trans-macro level of the international arena.