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Unavoidable Exploitation? Conflict, Agency and Human Trafficking

Kidd, Alicia



Julia Muraszkiewicz

Toby Fenton

Hayley Watson


This chapter considers the vulnerabilities generated specifically by conflict that put people at risk of human trafficking. A review of existing literature summarises some of the most common situations of human trafficking in the context of conflict. The literature is then built upon using findings from recent, in-depth interviews with individuals who have fled conflict. These findings draw further conclusions about how conflict encourages human trafficking, and offers insight into the lived experience of where conflict and trafficking meet. Much of the literature is concerned with child soldiers and how they, as victims of human trafficking, are exploited for the benefit of the military, regardless of how they are recruited or the role they play in an armed force. These experiences of child soldiers provide valuable insight into how armed forces are able to weaponise human trafficking. Considerable literature also focuses on the risks facing individuals in post-conflict zones who are living through extreme turbulence and who are faced with huge competition for limited resources in a time of economic and political transition, which is commonly tarnished with corruption. When resources are scarce, employment opportunities are rare and there is a lack of law enforcement, as are all common in times of conflict, there is a significant impact on individuals’ agency. By limiting the options available, conflict leaves these people in a position where they must decide between choices which commonly all hold inherent risk and where exploitation may be unavoidable. Through ascertaining the drivers of human trafficking in conflict and post-conflict zones, this chapter identifies the key vulnerabilities that put people most at risk. Whilst accepting the limitations of policy changes in areas affected by conflict, these are the primary issues that must be addressed if the risk of trafficking in such an environment is to be mitigated.


Kidd, A. (2020). Unavoidable Exploitation? Conflict, Agency and Human Trafficking. In J. Muraszkiewicz, T. Fenton, & H. Watson (Eds.), Human Trafficking in Conflict - Context, Causes and the Military (32-44). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Acceptance Date Nov 11, 2019
Online Publication Date Jul 2, 2020
Publication Date 2020
Deposit Date Jan 27, 2020
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Pages 32-44
Series Title Crime Prevention and Security Management
Book Title Human Trafficking in Conflict - Context, Causes and the Military
Chapter Number 3
ISBN 9783030408374; 9783030408404
Keywords conflict, trafficking, modern slavery
Public URL
Publisher URL