Human Trafficking, the Rule of Law, and Corporate Social Responsibility

South Carolina Journal of International Law & Business, Vol. 9, p. 39, 2012

50 Pages Posted: 26 May 2013

See all articles by Anna W. Shavers

Anna W. Shavers

University of Nebraska College of Law

Date Written: September 18, 2012


The complex structure of human trafficking, i.e., modern day slavery, includes actions by those that benefit directly from the exploitation of the vulnerable, but we have also come to recognize that those that benefit indirectly may also be a part of the problem. As legislation and lawsuits aimed at eliminating trafficking in persons increase, corporations and other businesses must decide whether they would rather respond to calls for corporate liability or corporate responsibility. Part I includes a discussion of the pervasiveness of human trafficking and its recognition internationally. Part II examines the risks that businesses must confront when they may indirectly benefit from or facilitate human trafficking, specifically, focusing on the various pieces of legislation and lawsuits available to address injuries incurred by victims of human trafficking. Part III includes a discussion of the option of developing corporate social responsibility models to address the legal risks associated with human trafficking, but even in the absence of real legal risks why businesses should take a proactive approach to examining and addressing the possibility that there are links to human trafficking in their operations. Globalization has been a significant factor in the increasing importance of corporate social responsibility. Customers, investors, and other stakeholders are showing increased interest in how companies are addressing risks and opportunities related to social and environmental issues. International businesses, with their growing links across countries and firms, are faced with human trafficking as a significant issue within global supply chains. Accompanying this growth is the need for companies to proactively manage the risks of human trafficking associated with globalization. The article concludes with an examination of voluntary actions taken by various corporations to address the risks of human trafficking.

Keywords: corporate social responsibility, human trafficking, human rights, modern day slavery, TIP

Suggested Citation

Shavers, Anna W., Human Trafficking, the Rule of Law, and Corporate Social Responsibility (September 18, 2012). South Carolina Journal of International Law & Business, Vol. 9, p. 39, 2012, Available at SSRN:

Anna W. Shavers (Contact Author)

University of Nebraska College of Law ( email )

103 McCollum Hall
P.O. Box 830902
Lincoln, NE 68583-0902
United States
402-4722194 (Phone)
402-4725185 (Fax)

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