Trafficking in Persons


What is trafficking in persons?


Trafficking in persons is a form of modern day slavery. It involves the trading of human beings for the purposes of exploitation. This exploitation can take different forms, such as: prostitution, forced and bonded labour, forced marriage, and organ harvesting.

Statistics from the International Labour Organization (ILO), state that millions of people are forced to work under threat or coercion every year. The financial implications of trafficking in persons are staggering, with trafficking in persons ranking second only to drug trafficking profit, measured in millions of dollars.

The first step in combating this aggravating global issue is increasing awareness; the second step is training aviation personnel, including cabin crew members, in recognizing victims and perpetrators. Due to the growing numbers of victims being transported by air, cabin crew training on identifying and responding to trafficking in persons becomes one of the best assets in the global crusade against this issue.



Why is ICAO involved in the issue?


ICAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations, and it recognizes its potential to initiate global action. ICAO actively contributes to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals adopted under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a focus on combating trafficking in persons. The Organization worked in collaboration with the Office of the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to develop guidance material, which can serve as a stepping stone for cabin crew training at individual airlines. 


Guidelines on Identifying and Responding to Trafficking in Persons (Cir 352)

The joint ICAO-OHCHR Guidelines for Training Cabin Crew on Identifying and Responding to Trafficking in Persons (Cir 352) are the result of this collaboration. Cir 352 provides States and operators with the framework and topics that should be included in the training package; material focuses on the identification and response to trafficking in persons, and is aimed particularly at the role of cabin crew members.

Download a copy of the ICAO-OHCHR Guidelines for Training Cabin Crew on 

Identifying and Responding to Trafficking in Persons (Cir 352):



What can States do to help?


States' Civil Aviation Authorities (CAAs) should require that operators develop policies, procedures, training and guidance for their employees; specifically to raise awareness on trafficking in persons and appropriate responses to such events. ICAO recommends that CAAs use the content of this circular as the basis for training programmes for cabin crew and other aviation personnel.

What can operators do to help?


The aviation industry is one of the primary modes of transportation utilized by traffickers, making it a likely for airline personnel to come face to face with victims or perpetrators. ICAO recommends that each operator develops a set of dedicated policies, procedures and reporting protocols for when such encounters occur. Specialized training should be provided to cabin crew members, as they would be a first point of recognition onboard, along with flight crew members as they would be the first point of reporting suspected cases of trafficking to law enforcement.

Guidelines for Reporting Trafficking in Persons by Flight and Cabin Crew (Cir 357)


The joint ICAO-OHCHR Guidelines for Reporting Trafficking in Persons by Flight and Cabin Crew (Cir 357) are intended to assist States, their relevant authorities, and operators in managing crew reports of suspected cases of trafficking in persons in aviation. These guidelines are to be used in conjunction with Circular 352.



Download a copy of the ICAO-OHCHR Guidelines for Reporting Trafficking in Person by Flight and Cabin Crew (Cir 357).

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Cir 357 is under development and will be published in 2021.



Tool for capacity building


The tool for capacity building of cabin crew on identifying and responding to trafficking in persons was developed by ICAO in collaboration OHCHR. This is a free-of-charge eLearning, for use by States and operators, that enables trainees to:

  • Understand the issue of trafficking in persons, including the elements of trafficking, why it happens and what is being done to combat it
  • Identify potential cases of trafficking in persons
  • Respond to suspected trafficking in persons, including producing a report of the occurrence
  • Obtain a certificate of completion at the end of the eLearning session


It is important to note that this eLearning tool must be supplemented with the operator's specific training on its policies and procedures related to handling suspected cases of trafficking. These define the specific way personnel must handle any suspected case of trafficking in persons.


Click here to register/login to the tool for capacity building (eLearning). Then, search for the key word "trafficking" or go to the "Online" tab at the top of the screen, to find it in the course catalogue.


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