The Scourge of Human Trafficking in the SADC Region as Hindrance to Development: A Legal Analysis

Author Kedibone Juda-Chembe

ISSN: 2522-3062
Affiliations: LLB, LLM (University of South Africa). Senior Lecturer: Department of Jurisprudence, University of South Africa.
Source: Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa, The, Volume 51 Issue 2, p. 234 – 252


Human trafficking is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights. In recent years, there have been indications that this crime is reaching alarming proportions and is becoming more organised and profitable. To curb this crime, the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol) created a cornerstone upon which to build a global initiative to combat this crime. State parties to the Palermo Protocol—including fifteen of the sixteen Southern African Development Community (SADC) states—must comply with provisions of the Protocol. Due to the fact that SADC citizens face a myriad of vulnerabilities that make them susceptible to trafficking, such as endemic poverty, minimal access to health and education, gender inequality, unemployment and a general lack of opportunities, makes human trafficking not only an issue of human rights and security, but also a development case. The latter is supported by the unequivocal inclusion of this crime for the first time—internationally in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, regionally in the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and sub-regionally in the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development. This article attempts to place the issue of human trafficking in SADC within a developmental paradigm. In this regard, it considers the implementation measures of the targets set in the SDGs, Agenda 2063 and provisions of the SADC Gender Protocol. The article argues that the lack of political will in implementing human trafficking provisions, limited resources, corruption and variable performances between SADC countries pose significant obstacles to regional development in SADC.