Human Rights Council
13 June–8 July 2022
Agenda item 3
Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights,
including the right to development
The present report of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Siobhán Mullally, was prepared pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 44/4.
Characterized by high levels of informality, lack of oversight and protection, trafficking in persons remains a serious concern within the agricultural sector, affecting both adults and children. Temporary, seasonal and migrant workers are provided with limited protection and remain at risk of exploitation. Discrimination on grounds of race, ethnicity, migration status, gender and disability create conditions within which trafficking occurs with impunity. Restrictive migration policies persist, despite demand for agricultural workers. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic saw the designation of agricultural workers as “essential”, yet this did not lead to improved worker protections or expanded safe migration pathways. Child labour remains prevalent within the agriculture sector, with continuing significant risks of trafficking affecting both boys and girls. The growth of agribusiness and the power of corporations, combined with the rapid pace of climate change, have further exacerbated risks of trafficking in persons. Agriculture, and specifically intensive agriculture, is contributing negatively to climate change, reflecting the wider nexus between trafficking in persons, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity and the climate crisis. Land inequality, particularly affecting women and girls, remains a key driver of exploitation, including trafficking for forced labour. Linked to legacies of colonialism, conflict, patriarchal family and State structures, and racial discrimination, land inequality is exacerbated by the growth of large-scale industrial farming models and limited enforcement of international human rights law and labour standards. The present report examines the continuing prevalence of trafficking in persons in the agricultural sector, in particular, for purposes of forced labour. In the report, the Special Rapporteur highlights the importance of mandatory human rights and environment due diligence measures to combat trafficking in persons within the agriculture sector to achieve the goals of sustainable development.