As a transnational phenomenon, trafficking in human beings concerns all the CBSS Member States and it is identified throughout the region.
The most identified forms of trafficking in the region are sexual and labour exploitation. Other forms of human trafficking, such as forced or sham marriages, forced criminality, forced begging and different forms of trafficking of children have also been detected in varying degrees.
Being regarded in general as a region of economic growth and stability, the Baltic Sea Region is a destination and transit area for several victims of human trafficking. The demand for cheap labour and sexual services makes the region lucrative for traffickers who to a varying degree work as part of organised criminal networks or as individuals taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of the victims.
The region is a destination for many refugees and displaced persons, who might be exploited during their transit or in their country of destination. The Syrian refugee crisis in 2015 and the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine emerging as a result of Russian aggression have highlighted the need for a regional response to prevent human trafficking, protect and assist the victims and prosecute the perpetrators.
However, trafficking in human beings does not only concern persons outside the region. Citizens of the CBSS Member States have been exploited both within the region and outside it, mainly in Western European countries. Identifying human trafficking occurring within the borders of the Member States and that exploits nationals, can be difficult as human trafficking is often observed from a migration perspective.
Prevention of trafficking in human beings has been identified as one of the objectives of the CBSS. It falls under the CBSS long-term priority “Safe and Secure Region” and is incorporated in the Policy Area “Secure” of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. The anti-trafficking efforts of the CBSS are led by the Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings (TF-THB).
The role of the CBSS
Since its establishment within the CBSS in 2006, the Task Force has been leading the regional anti-trafficking work by:
- Maintaining an active expert group of the CBSS Member State representatives that works as a cooperation forum, information exchange platform as well as political discussion forum
- Creating and leading projects and initiatives in the region to support national anti-trafficking efforts, increase the awareness of stakeholders, facilitate the regional exchange of information and develop regional responses to the phenomenon, such as the Baltic Sea Region Transnational Referral Mechanism (BSR-TRM)
- Reacting and coordinating responses in the region to major regional and international events, such as the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine
- Participating in international cooperation and networks, including The United Nations Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons
- Producing empirical research, articles, and papers on human trafficking in the Baltic Sea Region and beyond.
The CBSS also supports anti-trafficking efforts in the region through CBSS Project Support Facility funding.
- Council of the Baltic Sea States Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings Strategic Plan 2020-2025
- Terms of Reference of the CBSS Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings
- Joint Statement of commitment to work against human trafficking for labour exploitation in the Baltic Sea Region
- Vilnius II declaration: […] The Region experiences significant progress in regional cooperation in civil protection, especially the prevention, preparedness and response against emergencies, including oil pollution, forest fires and in maritime search and rescue. Similarly, the Region has achieved significant progress in the protection of children at risk, and in fighting organized crime, including all forms of trafficking, especially in human beings. […]
- CBSS Action Plan 2021-2025
Handbook for Embassies and Diplomatic Missions on how to Assist and Protect Victims of Human Trafficking (2022)
Facts & Figures
- Released several publications, including Baltic Sea round-up reports, studies on labour trafficking, guidelines for municipalities, mass media and diplomatic staff.
- Increased the awareness of more than 1000 consular officials, more than 700 journalists and media students, 500 local actors and other experts through trainings.
- Established the Transnational Referral Mechanism (TRM) of the Baltic Sea Region, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine.