Blue Heart Campaign

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Blue Heart Campaign
A blue heart shape, with the caption "blue heart campaign", then in a different font, "against Human Trafficking".
Logo of the Blue Heart Campaign
MottoAgainst Human Trafficking
Parent organization
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

The Blue Heart Campaign is an international anti-trafficking program started by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).[1] Established in 1997, the UNODC supported countries in implementing three UN drug protocols. In 2000, after the UN General Assembly adopted the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, the UNODC became the “guardian” of that protocol and assumed the functions of fighting against human trafficking.[2] The Blue Heart Campaign was launched in March 2009 by the Executive Director of the UNODC, Antonio Maria Costa, during his address to the World’s Women’s Conference meeting in Vienna. The campaign’s symbol is a blue heart that signifies the sadness of those who are trafficked while reminding the world of the cold-heartedness of those who buy, sell and traffic human beings.[3]

Communication strategies[edit]

The campaign uses information and communication technology (ICT) to educate people about trafficking issues and impact, to engage in dialogue with others concerned about this issue, and to show solidarity with the victims of human trafficking by wearing the Blue Heart.[4] The Blue Heart Campaign uses its website, as well as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr to communicate goals, objectives, and news with the public.

Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons[edit]

The UNODC assists states through the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) to implement the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons.[1] This protocol was entered into force on 25 December 2003. It is the first global legally binding instrument with an agreed definition on trafficking in persons.[5] The intention behind this definition is to facilitate convergence in national approaches with regard to the establishment of domestic criminal offenses that would support efficient international cooperation in investigating and prosecuting trafficking in persons cases.[5] An additional objective of the protocol is to protect and assist the victims of trafficking in persons with full respect for their human rights.[5] This protocol states that while there are rules and measures to combat the exploitation of persons, there is no universal instrument to combat all aspects of trafficking in persons. The protocol has 20 articles and defines “trafficking in persons” as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.[6] The protocol includes legislative provisions and protection, prevention and cooperation measures.[6] The UNTOC represents a major step forward in the fight against transnational organized crime and signifies the recognition by Member States of the seriousness of human trafficking.[5] To date, more than 147 countries have ratified and signed the protocol.[2] However, according to the UNODC, "very few criminals are being brought to justice and most victims are never identified or assisted.[2]


To support the Blue Heart Campaign, the UN has launched the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons. The Fund was established following the adoption by the General Assembly in July 2010 of the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, which urges Governments to take coordinated, comprehensive and consistent steps to combat such trafficking and to adopt a human rights-based approach. The fund will support actual, on-the-ground humanitarian, legal, and financial aid to victims of trafficking through a range of avenues.[7] The fund will also help Governments, as well as intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, to protect and support victims of human trafficking so they can recover from their physical and psychological injuries. To ensure efficient, transparent, and accountable Fund administration and to support uniform and consolidated reporting, the UNODC is designated as fund manager.[7] The UNODC will administer the fund with the advice of a Board of Trustees appointed by the UN Secretary-General in accordance with the Financial Regulations and Rules of the United Nations and the relevant policies and procedures promulgated by the Secretary-General.[7] The Victims' Trust Fund has one primary objective: to provide the opportunity for people from all walks of life including governments, the private sector, international organizations, NGOs and individuals to work together to help victims of human trafficking in a practical and tangible matter.[7]

Trafficking in Persons Report[edit]

For the United States, the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report is the principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking.[8] It is the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human trafficking efforts and represents an updated, global look at the nature and scope of trafficking in persons and the broad range of government actions to confront and eliminate it.[8] The U.S. government uses the TIP Report to engage foreign governments in dialogues to advance anti-trafficking reforms and to combat trafficking and to target resources on prevention, protection, and prosecution programs.[8] International organizations, foreign governments, and nongovernmental organizations use the report as a tool to examine where resources are most needed.[8] Freeing victims, preventing trafficking, and bringing traffickers to justice are the ultimate goals of the report and of the U.S. Government's anti-human trafficking policy.[8] In the TIP Report, the Department of State places each country onto one of three tiers based on the extent of their governments' efforts to comply with the "minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking" found in Section 108 of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA).[8] While Tier 1 is the highest ranking, it does not mean that a country has no human trafficking problem. On the contrary, a Tier 1 ranking indicates that a government has acknowledged the existence of human trafficking, made efforts to address the problem, and complies with the TVPA's minimum standards.[8] Each year, governments need to demonstrate appreciable progress in combating trafficking to maintain a Tier 1 ranking.[8]

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month[edit]

On 31 December 2012 Barack Obama declared January the National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. In his proclamation, President Obama explains that "trafficking networks operate both domestically and trans-nationally, and although abuses disproportionately affect women and girls, the victims of this ongoing global tragedy are men, women, and children of all ages. Around the world, we are monitoring the progress of governments in combating trafficking while supporting programs aimed at its eradication".[9] On 29 December 2017, President Donald Trump proclaimed January 2018 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.[10][11][12][13][14]


Mexico was the first country in the world to join back in April 2010.[15] Spain followed Mexico's example and joined the Campaign in June 2010, becoming the first European country to join.[16] In April 2012, Portugal joined the list of countries supporting the campaign. It was launched by Teresa Morais, Secretary of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Equality, Manuel Albano, Portuguese National Rapporteur for Human Trafficking, and Pierre Lapaque, Chief of the UNODC Organized Crime Unit.[17] Word about Blue Heart has spanned the globe and many organizations are getting involved. A student organization at the University of South Florida called N.I.T.E. (Necessary Improvements to Transform the Environment) participated in the campaign in February 2012 to support two fellow students that had survived human trafficking.[18] In Kenya, a group of artists have come together to develop a play to raise awareness about human trafficking.[19] The play is called "A Blue Heart, Joy's Story" and it follows the life of Joy, a young girl who goes to live with her aunt after her parents' unfortunate demise and gets involved in a gripping saga.[19] The play was developed by Fern Poetry and the Africa Sanaelimu Art Ensemble.[19] The play was also based on research done by KARDS (Koinonia Advisory Research and Development Services) in 2009 on the proliferation of human trafficking in East Africa.[19] In April 2009, the UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) and its Blue Blindfold Campaign entered into a strategic partnership with the UNODC and the Blue Heart Campaign to promote each other's campaigns, aiming specifically to present a clear public image of their complementary relationship while clarifying their two very distinct functions.[20] Even the world of fashion has gotten involved with the Campaign through Beulah London, a luxury fashion label.[21] Beulah London has set up an ethical clothing company by employing rescued sex trafficking victims in India.[21] It supports two projects in India, Freeset and Openhand, where the women receive a salary, health insurance and child care in exchange for their work.[21] They also receive textile training to develop their skills. For every dress, scarf or bag sold, a proportion of the profits goes to the Blue Heart Campaign.[21]

Increased enforcement efforts in Europe[edit]

In 2011 the European Union adopted the legislation Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims.[2] It aims to make legislation and penalties more effective, ensuring successful prevention and prosecution on trafficking as well as enhanced protection of, and assistance to, victims.[2] In December 2011, the European Commission appointed Myria Vassilliadou as Anti-Trafficking Coordinator with a view to improving coordination and coherence between EU institutions and agencies as well as with Member States and international actors.[2] The establishment of the coordinator also aims to provide for an overall strategic and policy orientation in the field of trafficking in human beings.[2] By bringing together prevention, law enforcement, and victim protection, she will ensure that all appropriate means for EU action against trafficking are adequately used and mobilized.[2] The European Police Office (Europol) assists EU Member States in their fight against serious and organized crime.[2] Trafficking in human beings is one of Europol's mandated crime areas.[2] In its 2011 report 'Trafficking in Human Beings in the European Union,' Europol concludes that "the positive steps taken by many Member States and the EU to prevent and combat trafficking in Europe have ensured that the current level of response in tackling this crime has never been higher. Lengthy prison sentences for convicted traffickers are now routine in some countries, the levels of awareness amongst law enforcement and the judiciary have been raised, victim protection and support is prioritized and national action plans provide clear examples of Member State strategy and intent. The investigation of labor exploitation is now firmly on the agenda of many countries and again indicates the willingness of countries to recognize, adapt to and combat new forms of trafficking. However, based on current reporting, intelligence, trends and patterns, it is unlikely that there will be any immediate reduction in the levels of trafficking of human beings in Europe. This crime will continue to have a major impact on the EU".[2]


  1. ^ a b "About the Blue Heart Campaign". United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "The Blue Heart Campaign". United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe. Retrieved 13 March 2013.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Blue Heart Campaign to End Human Trafficking". Archived from the original on 16 August 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  4. ^ "Blue Heart Campaign". The Communication Initiative Network. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d "United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols Thereto". United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Archived from the original on 19 March 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime". United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d "UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking". United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Archived from the original on 11 May 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "Trafficking in Persons Report". Blue Heart Campaign. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  9. ^ "Presidential Proclamation: National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, 2012". The White House. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  10. ^ Office of the Press Secretary (29 December 2017). "President Donald J. Trump Proclaims January 2018 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month". Washington, D.C.: White House. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  11. ^ Westwood, Sarah (29 December 2017). "Trump declares January 'National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month'". The Washington Examiner. Washington, D.C.: Clarity Media Group. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  12. ^ Anapol, Avery (1 January 2018). "Trump designates January 2018 a month dedicated to combatting human trafficking". The Hill. Washington, D.C.: Capitol Hill Publishing Corp. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  13. ^ Edwards, Valerie (1 January 2018). "President Donald Trump designates January 2018 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month". Daily Mail. London: DMG Media. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  14. ^ Office of the Federal Register (29 December 2017). "National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, 2018" (PDF). Federal Register. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. Archived from the original on 4 January 2018. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Mexico leads countries in UN Blue Heart human trafficking campaign". UN News Centre. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  16. ^ "Spain joins campaign against human trafficking". United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  17. ^ "Portugal joins Blue Heart campaign against human trafficking". United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  18. ^ "N.I.T.E. launches Blue Heart Campaign". University of South Florida. Retrieved 15 April 2013.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ a b c d "Blue Heart Campaign inspires artist in Kenya to raise awareness about human trafficking". UN.GIFT.HUB. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  20. ^ "Strategic partnership between UKHTC's Blue Blindfold Campaign and the UNODC's Blue Heart Campaign". Blue Blindfold Campaign. Archived from the original on 11 May 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  21. ^ a b c d "Beulah London fashion label helping victims of trafficking". United Nations Radio. Retrieved 15 April 2013.