Training on human trafficking: a component of the human security operationalisation framework

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Dr Julia Muraszkiewicz | Head of Programme Against Exploitation and Violence
Toby Fenton | Senior Product Manager

Date: 23 September 2021

Research and our own experience show that whilst those working in defence are typically well positioned to help better understand how human trafficking manifests itself in conflict, they do not fully understand what human trafficking truly entails and/or what their role is vis-à-vis that crime. Acknowledging this gap, Royal Marines Commandos invited Trilateral Research to deliver training on human trafficking awareness. The aim? Improving understanding of human trafficking and how it fits into the broader puzzle of human security.

Why is this important? From both a theoretical and operational perspective, human security aims to address complex situations, one of which is human trafficking. Human trafficking is embedded in the very fabric of the contemporary landscape of conflict and instability. It is not only a threat multiplier in providing additional financial and human resources to malicious actors, but it also undermines the personal safety and security of populations, which in turns feeds the cycles of exploitation and human suffering that we see in much of the world. It can be said that if you don’t think you interact with human trafficking then you aren’t looking. Many military personnel don’t have to look very far to see the crime when deployed. A child soldier, a forced bride, there are examples everywhere.

Establishing the military as a force for good

Human trafficking is an important indicator in areas of insecurity; for the military, identifying trafficking routes generally leads to illicit networks including, sexual exploitation, arms smuggling, drug smuggling, and cultural property smuggling, all of which ultimately lead to the financing of violent extremist organisations. Disrupting the former impacts the latter in an indirect manner. This process requires thinking beyond the enemy, providing a framework of thinking that focuses on individual insecurity and understanding vulnerability as a networked process where the aim is to break the dependency between the target and the perpetrator. Individually, it is also about understanding how their own actions may lead to a capital demand and exploitation of people as a commodity. As well as having a conceptual and moral importance, reputationally, understanding human trafficking becomes important in establishing the military as a force for good. An ever-closing relationship between military deployments, Private Military Contractors, and in country contracted commercial logistical support does not negate the moral legal and ethical responsibility of the military to ensure that actions and activity do not have a negative impact on the population.

But how do you build innovative and resourceful responses to the series of human insecurities, such as human trafficking, in a complex system made up of multiple actors with activities that are happening simultaneously and often spontaneously. You have to begin with training.

Training the Royal Marines on Human Trafficking

Trilateral’s method of delivery relied on humanistic approaches to education, whereby as trainers we transmitted knowledge to enhance awareness about human trafficking but more importantly encouraged mutual participation and an exchange of experiences. As facilitators we also became participant learners and together with those in attendance embarked on an exciting quest of understanding where Royal Marines see human trafficking and what they can do about it. What became apparent here was the complexity of the environments in which Royal Marines operate. Was the group of “brothers” rescued from Mediterranean really a family or were they being trafficked by the “oldest brother”?  Was the young girl crying because she’d lost her parents after the cyclone really with her “uncle” or was he a trafficker? We looked at real life examples and learnt as much from the participants and their stories from the field, as they did from us. Following on from the course, the attendees refined their perception of the prevalence of human trafficking in conflict.

Following the advice of Carl Rogers, a renowned American psychologist and education, we encourage participants in all trainings we deliver to continue to seek knowledge and adapt to change in their environment.

This blog post was co-authored by Lt Col Leon Marshall RM, Toby Fenton and Dr Julia Muraszkiewicz.

For more information contact our team.

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