Logo of Maastricht Summer School

Human Trafficking and Sexual Violence in Conflict: Achievements, Challenges and Ways Forward

Maastricht Summer School
Netherlands, Maastricht
Maastricht Summer School Netherlands, Bonnefantenstraat 2, 6211 KL Maastricht, The Netherlands
Tuition fee €399 per programme


Please note that due to COVID-19 this course will take place online.

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.

Course Duration and Dates
This is an online one-week course running from the 28th of June until the 2nd of July, 2021. The course will be scheduled in Central European Time [CET] so it is possible that some time slots are not ideal for people in certain time zones. However, when scheduling the courses, we will try to take into account the different time zones as much as we can.

The number of credits earned after successfully concluding this course is the equivalent of 2 ECTS according to Maastricht University MSS guidelines. For further information see the MSS terms and conditions

This course will be taught by Dr. Eefje de Volder and Dr. Anne-Marie de Brouwer of IMPACT: Center against Human Trafficking and Sexual Violence in Conflict’. For more background information of the lecturers, see: www.impact-now.org/who-we-are/team/

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.

Instruction language

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 (a selection)

- United Nations, Security Council, Report of the Secretary-General on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, S/2017/249, 15 April 2017 (33 pp). Available at: reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/N1708433.pdf
- 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
- 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:
- For the ICC’s Rome Statute, Elements of Crimes, Rules of Procedure and Evidence, see: www.icc-cpi.int/resource-library#legal-texts
- Christian Correa, ICTJ Briefing, Getting to Full Restitution: Guidelines for Court-Ordered Reparations in Cases Involving Sexual Violence Committed during Armed Conflict, Political Violence, or State Repression, April 2017 (20 pp). Available at: www.ictj.org/sites/default/files/ICTJ-Briefing-Court-Reparations-2017.pdf
- Anne-Marie de Brouwer and Sandra Ka Hon Chu, Gacaca Courts in Rwanda: 18 Years after the Genocide, Is There Justice and Reconciliation for Survivors of Sexual Violence?, 7 April 2012 (3-part blog). Available at: www.intlawgrrls.com/2012/04/gacaca-courts-in-rwanda-18-years-after.html (from there continue reading the other two blogs)
- 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
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), What is Human Trafficking? (website page). Available at: www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/what-is-human-trafficking.html
- Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHR), Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking, 2002 (17 pp). Available at: www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/Traffickingen.pdf
- Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Protocol or Anti-Trafficking Protocol), 15 December 2002. Available at:
- Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHR), Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking, 2002. Available at: www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/Traffickingen.pdf (particularly the sections on protection and assistance – already prescribed yesterday).
- Global Alliance Against Traffick 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
- 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: www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1323&context=ijgls
- Anna Gallagher, ‘Two Cheers for the Trafficking Protocol’, 4 Anti-Trafficking Review, (2015) 14-32. Available at:

Teaching methods
▪ Assignments
▪ Lectures
▪ Papers
▪ Presentations
▪ Research
▪ Work in subgroups

Assessment methods
▪ Assignment
▪ Attendance
▪ Final paper
▪ Presentation

Apply now! Summer Term 2020/21
Application period has ended
Studies commence
Jun 28, 2021

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States

Apply now! Summer Term 2020/21
Application period has ended
Studies commence
Jun 28, 2021

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States