The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings40 was adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 3 May 2005 and entered into force on 1 February 2008. The Convention builds on existing international instruments, but goes beyond the standards previously established, and strengthens protections afforded to victims.

The Convention has a broad scope and covers all forms of trafficking, national and transnational, whether or not it is linked to organised crime. It also takes in all victims of trafficking (women, men and children). The forms of exploitation covered by the Convention include sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery and similar practices, servitude and the removal of organs.

The main innovations of the Convention are the human rights perspective it brings, and the focus on victim protection. The Preamble defines trafficking in human beings as a violation of human rights and an offence to the dignity and integrity of the human being. The body of the Convention then outlines a series of rights for victims of trafficking, in particular the right to be identified as a victim, to be protected and assisted, to be given a recovery and reflection period of at least 30 days, to be granted a renewable residence permit, and to receive compensation for any damages suffered.

Another important innovation introduced by the Convention is the monitoring system set up to supervise the implementation of the obligations contained within it. This monitoring system consists of two pillars: the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) and the Committee of the Parties.

The Convention is not restricted to Council of Europe member states: nonmember states also have the possibility of becoming Party to the Convention, as does the European Union.

40 Details of Treaty No.197 - Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings