The trafficking of children has received extensive attention from both academic and political arenas in recent years., yet this growing phenomenon remains a relatively new area of international law. (Gallagher, 2010) Human trafficking has both a long legal and political history, distinguishing it from many contemporary international legal issues. (Gallagher, 2010) Despite this history the term “trafficking” was not defined by international law until the adoption of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime; The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children in 2000.
This chapter will illustrate the origins of child trafficking within international law and identify an evolution in understanding of the phenomenon over the course of the last century. Through research in the League of Nations archives, Geneva, this chapter illustrates how a historical perspective enhances understanding of contemporary legal responses to child trafficking. The chapter undertakes a critical analysis of child trafficking within the context of international law; demonstrating the parallels with the White Slavery Conventions of the early twentieth century and the contemporary legal framework.