Human Rights Legislation in the Arab World: The Case of Human Trafficking

In the Arab World, human rights legislation has not always enhanced human rights. In fact, many national laws have been adopted that restrict human rights. Some countries’ laws regulating nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) do not allow NGOs to receive funding from foreign entities. Media laws impose various limitations on the press. Jordan is the only Arab nation to enforce a comprehensive law on combating violence against women. Jordan is also the only country that has a law on access to information. Despite these gaps in human rights legislation, many Arab countries have passed comprehensive laws to combat human trafficking since the passage of the U.N. Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (U.N. Protocol) ten years ago. These laws were adopted in compliance with the legislative mandate of the U.N. Protocol, which itself was ratified by most Arab countries. These laws were also drafted to comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons as articulated in the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which requires the U.S. State Department to assess efforts made by foreign governments to combat trafficking in persons. Although states, by passing comprehensive laws, are implementing the U.N. Protocol’s legislative mandate, in my judgment, the U.S. assessment has also played a significant role in the antitrafficking legislative movement in the Arab World.