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Human Trafficking and Sexual Violence in Conflict

Maastricht Summer School
Netherlands, Maastricht
Maastricht Summer School Netherlands, Bonnefantenstraat 2, 6211 KL Maastricht, The Netherlands
Tuition fee €699 one-time
More information



All around the world, numerous men, women, boys and girls suffer the harsh consequences of human trafficking and sexual violence in conflict. Thousands of people are forced into sexual slavery during conflict-situations, and/or, when fleeing conflict, are forced by human traffickers into exploitative practices en route and in the country of destination. One only needs to watch the news about what is happening today in, for example, Syria, Central African Republic, South Sudan, and in the wake of the refugee crisis in Europe, to see that these practices are ever present. Both phenomena are crimes that affect the physical and psychological integrity of human beings, communities and societies at large. Although both human trafficking and sexual violence in conflict are at times looked upon separately, there are many similarities to be found. One can think of the sexual nature that can be found in both crimes, the taboos and stigmas surrounding both crimes, the difficulty in defining the crimes, the focus on law enforcement (prosecution) rather than on prevention, prosecutorial challenges (e.g. protection, secondary victimization, reliance on victims’ testimonies), lack of comprehensibly understanding victims’ rights and needs, misconceptions about perpetrators and victims, and the fluidity of victim- and perpetrator roles, the consequences of both crimes (e.g. trauma, children born as a result), the causes and purposes of the crimes, to name a few. The UN Secretary General in its report on conflict-related sexual violence of 15 April 2017 for the first time reported about the link between conflict-related violence and trafficking in persons. It was held that the term conflict-related sexual violence also encompasses trafficking in persons when committed in situations of conflict for the purpose of sexual violence/exploitation. In Resolution 2331 (2016) of 20 December 2016 of the UN Security Council was, moreover, the nexus between human trafficking, sexual violence, terrorism and transnational organized crime for the first time addressed. With this resolution sexual violence as a tactic of terrorism was officially acknowledged. In looking at both human trafficking and sexual violence in conflict – both in their own right and together – a contribution is made to better understand the opportunities and challenges involved and to find ways forward in addressing these timely crimes.

At the end of this course, participants will be able to:
• identify and describe the phenomena of human trafficking and sexual violence in conflict;
• identify, analyse and critically assess the differences and overlap between the crimes of human trafficking and sexual violence in conflict;
• identify, analyse and critically assess the opportunities, challenges and ways forward in addressing human trafficking and sexual violence in conflict through legal and non-legal mechanisms, including from a victim’s perspective.

Applicants must be BA or MA students (from any discipline) who have, at a minimum, a profound interest in the phenomena of human trafficking and sexual violence in conflict and have proficient knowledge of English. Further, applicants are expected to participate actively throughout the course.

Recommended literature
1. UN Secretary General, Report of the Secretary-General on Conflict-Related Sexual
2. Violence, 6 July 2023, UN Doc S/2023/413. Available at: www.un.org/sexualviolenceinconflict/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/SG-REPORT-2023SPREAD-1.pdf
3. Dara Kay Cohen, Amelia Hoover Green and Elisabeth Jean Wood, Wartime Sexual Violence: Misconceptions, Implications, and Ways Forward, United States Institute of Peace, Special Report, 2013 (16 pp). Available at: www.usip.org/sites/default/files/wartime%20sexual%20violence.pdf.
4. The Inter-agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT), 20th Anniversary of the Trafficking in Persons Protocol An analytical review (2020), availablevia:https://icat.un.org/sites/g/files/tmzbdl461/files/publications/analytical_review_paper_final-2.pdf.
5. Rina Ghafoerkhan, Willem Scholte, Eefje de Volder and Anne-Marie de Brouwer, ‘The Nexus between Conflict-Related Sexual Violence and Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation in Times of Conflict’, Journal of Trafficking and Human Exploitation 2019/1(3): 9-34.
6. Anne-Marie de Brouwer, The Importance of Understanding Sexual Violence in Conflict for Investigating and Prosecution Purposes, 48(3) Cornell International Law Journal (2015) 639-666. Available at: www.lawschool.cornell.edu/research/ILJ/upload/de-Brouwer-final-2.pdf.
7. Amy Farrel and Brianne Kane, ‘Criminal Justice System Responses to Human Trafficking’ 642-657, in: John Winterdyk and Jackie Jones, The Palgrave International Handbook of Human Trafficking (2020, Springer). Available at: link-springer-com.tilburguniversity.idm.oclc.org/content/pdf/10.1007%2F978-3-319-63058-8_40.pdf.
8. Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW), Unmet Needs: Emotional Support and Care after Trafficking, Briefing Paper, 2015 (8 pp). Available at: www.gaatw.org/publications/GAATW_Briefing_Paper_Unmet_Needs.10.2015.pdf.
9. Suzanne Hoff and Eefje de Volder, Preventing Human Trafficking of Refugees from Ukraine: A Rapid Assessment of Risks and Gaps in the Anti-Trafficking Response (La Strada International and The Freedom Fund, May 2022). Available at: freedomfund.org/wp-content/uploads/UkraineAntiTraffickingReport_2022_05_10.pdf.
10. Kateryna Busol, ‘When the Head of State Makes Rape Jokes, His Troops Rape on the Ground: Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Russia’s Aggression against Ukraine’, Journal of Genocide Research, Published online: 14 December 2023. Available at: www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14623528.2023.2292344
11. - Center for Human Rights, Gender and Migration and the Mukwege Foundation, Understanding Conflict-related Sexual Violence in Ethiopia, Research Report 2022. Available at: bpb-us-w2.wpmucdn.com/sites.wustl.edu/dist/1/2391/files/2022/11/CRSV_ETHIOPIA_REPORT_221025_FINAL-corrected.pdf
12. Macarena Sáez, ‘Investigating Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Conflict: October 7 Victims Have a Right to Accountability and Justice’ Human Rights Watch, 12 December 2023. Available at: www.hrw.org/news/2023/12/12/investigating-sexual-and-gender-based-violence-conflict
13. A.I. Ahram, ‘Sexual Violence and the Making of ISIS’, 57:3 Survival (2015).
14. Anne-Marie de Brouwer, Eefje de Volder and Christophe Paulussen, ‘Prosecuting the Nexus between Terrorism, Conflict-Related Sexual Violence and Trafficking in Human Beings Before National Legal Mechanisms: Case Studies of Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab’, Journal of International Criminal Justice /T.M.C. Asser Institute for International & European Law, Asser Research Paper 2020-03, March 2020. Available at: papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3554985.
15. Ragnhild Nordas, Preventing Conflict-related Sexual Violence, PRIO Policy Brief, 02, 2013 (4 pp). Available at: file.prio.no/publication_files/prio/Nordas-Preventing-Conflict-related-Sexual-Violence-PRIO-Policy-Brief-02-2013.pdf.
16. Inger Skjelsbæk, Preventing Perpetrators: How To Go from Protection to Prevention of Sexual Violence in War?, PRIO Policy Brief Oslo, 03, 2013 (4 pp). Available at file.prio.no/publication_files/prio/Skjelsbaek-Preventing-Perpetrators-PRIO- Policy-Brief-03-2013.pdf.
17. Janie Chuang, ‘Beyond a Snapshot: Preventing Human Trafficking in the Global Economy’, 13(1) Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies (2006) 137-163. Available at:http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1323&context=ijgls.
18. Sallie Yea, ‘Editorial: The Politics of Evidence, Data and Research in Anti-trafficking Work’, 8 Anti-Trafficking Review (2017) 1-13. Available at: www.antitraffickingreview.org/index.php/atrjournal/article/view/223/205.

Teaching methods
Assignments, Lectures, Papers, PBL, Presentations, Research, Work in subgroups

Assessment methods
Assignment ,Attendance, Final paper, Presentation

Course Coordinators
Dr. Anne-Marie de Brouwer
Dr. Eefje de Volder
For more background information of the lecturers, see:

Apply now! Maastricht Summer School 2023/24
Application period has ended
Studies commence
17 Jun 2024
Apply now! Maastricht Summer School 2023/24
Application period has ended
Studies commence
17 Jun 2024