Security as a Patriarchal Structure

By Amber Malone

“Without a feminist perspective, policymakers will be limited in their capability to address the needs of insecure populations, and women – especially asylum-seeking women – will continue to be disproportionately impacted by violence.”

In the piece that follows, student blogger, Amber Malone, charts the exegesis of how traditional approaches to security obscure the contribution of women, accentuate male bias, and inadvertently reinforce male dominance in issues that address security challenges especially for groups that are often at risk, and on the fringes of society.

Amidst the seemingly insurmountable challenge of displacement, how governments “speak security” frames the discourse surrounding the protection of refugee5s and internally displaced persons. Underlining the conferral of refugee status and protections, the duality of security – state security and human security – raises a few critical concerns. Which of the two should be prioritized? Is a balance conceivable? How should States respond to humanitarian matters while respecting national interests and the wellbeing of vulnerable groups?

More importantly, while states struggle with effective migration governance, insecurities are increasing amongst one of the most vulnerable subsets of the refugee and migrant population: asylum-seeking women. Some States – grappling to control the flow of refugees for the benefit of national security – have enacted policies and continue to pursue practices that increase the vulnerability of refugee women. While there tends to be much focus on incorporating human security as a complementary tool to state security in migration management, some scholars call for a greater emphasis on a feminist perspective in  human security. Reexamining human security through the lens of feminism not only allows States to challenge power dynamics, but also address the growing insecurity of vulnerable populations, more specifically migrant and asylum-seeking women.[1]

The issues surrounding the governance and management of migration run deeper than legal limitations. The policies that governments enact are rooted in social, political, and economic structures that intertwine gender and security. Many contemporary security scholars and practitioners claim that addressing security concerns from a feminist approach offers deeper insight into a gender hierarchy in international affairs, the behavior of States, and the insecurity of groups on the periphery of interstate politics.[2]

A feminist critique of human security serves to render more visible the experiences of women and challenge the patriarchal assumptions and male privilege in security. This feminist critique of migration policy poses one question: how and whose security is emphasized in the management of migration?

As a conceopt, security is usually defined by the status quo or discourse set by diplomatic and inter-state relations. State interest in limiting the conferral of specific rights based on citizenship does not always coincide with the concept of human rights.[3] Under the scope of state security, differences translate into threats to national interests, and the rights and needs of refugees and migrants often take a backseat to ideological issues.[4] Traditionally, States regard security from a realist, militarized perspective. This particular approach delineates security as simply protection from invasion or attacks by other powers.[5] This realist approach presents a narrow conception of security given that it positions the State as the sole focus of security and does not consider the human costs.[6] Furthermore, the merging of feminist studies with international relations reveals a “gender dimension” in the practice of security. More specifically, it unpacks the entrenched roles and characteristics given to men and women in the practice of security.

The United Nations University defines human security as “being concerned with the protection of people from critical and life-threatening dangers, regardless of whether the threats are rooted in anthropogenic activities or natural events, whether they lie within or outside states, and whether they are direct or structural.”[7] Through the traditional lens of security, humanitarianism is viewed as entirely separate or unrelated. In other words, state security tends to put issues such as human displacement, resettlement, and protection on the periphery of politics. However, security, in a general sense, is the condition of feeling safe and protected, a concept often encompassed in human rights discussions. Therefore, the protection of human rights is intricately linked to human security. As such, contemporary security or state security alone is insufficient for addressing human welfare.

Many contemporary scholars and schools have challenged this unidimensional understanding of security. However, their criticisms, for the most part, have not acknowledged how interstate politics and migration management are driven by notions and values intrinsically linked to masculinity.[8] Without a feminist perspective, policymakers will be limited in their capability to address the needs of insecure populations and women – especially asylum-seeking women – will continue to be disproportionately impacted by violence

Structural violence has a disproportionate, gendered impact upon human bodies.[9] Numerous studies demonstrate a strong link between the structural and sexual violence against women in militarized societies in times of peace and during times of conflict. [10] Therefore, how governments approach issues of security is gendered and gendering. According to Sheperd (2010), there are two ways in which violence is gendered in masculinist societies that uphold militarism as a security ideology. First, there is physical violence or the threat of physical violence, such as rape, against vulnerable populations to strip them of their political or economic assets. Second, there is gender violence that occurs due to socially constructed ideas about masculinity and femininity.[11] This violence is also gendering because it reproduces binary oppositions surrounding masculinity, femininity, and the militarized conception of security.[12]

Escaping persecution and conflict poses gendered risks and burdens. In their countries of origin, transit countries, and host countries, refugee and asylum-seeking women face numerous challenges.[13] In refugee camps, women are often tasked with the responsibility of logistical and administrative duties in addition to being the primary caretakers of their families. Furthermore, the gendered challenges that refugee women face are further exacerbated by camps in which the social and geographical structures are continually changing. Refugee women are forced to compensate for inadequate facilities and a lack of resources such as healthcare, food, water, and firewood.[14] These challenges create precarious and unsafe situations for women. Instead of providing solutions to the subjugation of women, refugee camps become a hotspot for violence and exploitation, reinforcing their subordination.[15]

A feminist critique of human security serves to render more visible the experiences of women and challenge the patriarchal assumptions and male privilege in security. This feminist critique of migration policy poses one question: how and whose security is emphasized in migration policy?

Redefining security and insecurity through postmodernist feminist theory amplifies the range of women voices.[16] In addition, a feminist approach legitimizes the “provision of care” as an essential component of security. Tickner argues that constructing a concept of security based on a feminist perspective requires a postmodernist approach as prevalent approaches to security are militarized and focus on great powers.[17] Furthermore, a postmodern feminist perspective reveals the gender hierarchies and gender roles that are enmeshed in the challenges that refugee men and women face. The first area of concern is data collection to identify high-risk areas. This initiative would involve the participation of field offices, organizations, and volunteers to identify current risks for sexual and gender-based violence and the accessibility of available protection services in refugee complexes. Second, improving the accessibility of resources and educating in-field organizations about gendered insecurity would aid in developing preventive strategies and responses to SGBV and other gendered security challenges. In addition to more a comprehensive response, extending critical information concerning social and economic affairs as well as bureaucratic regulations to individuals will help refugee and asylum-seeking women make informed decisions and mitigate recourse to desperate measures.

[1] “The Ethics of Care and Global Politics.” The Ethics of Care: A Feminist Approach to Human Security, by Fiona Robinson, Temple University Press, 2011, pp. 41. JSTOR,

[2] Tickner, J. Ann. “Feminism and Security.” Security Studies: a Reader, edited by Hughes, Christopher. Routledge, 2011, pp. 47.

[3] “The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration: What Is Its Contribution to International Migration Law?” QIL QDI, 2 May 2019,

[4] Newman, Edward. “Critical Human Security Studies.” Review of International Studies, vol. 36, no. 1, 2010, pp. 77–94. JSTOR,

[5] Hama, Hawre Hasan. “State Security, Societal Security, and Human Security.” Jadavpur Journal of International Relations, vol. 21, no. 1, June 2017, pp. 2, doi:10.1177/0973598417706591.

[6] Kerr, P. 2010. ‘Human Security’, in A. Collins, ed., Contemporary Security Studies (pp. 121–135). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

[7] Newman, Edward 83.

[8] Tickner, J. Ann. “Feminism and Security.” Security Studies: a Reader, edited by Hughes, Christopher. Routledge, 2011, pp. 49

[9] A. Gasztold, A Feminist Approach to Security Studies, „Przegląd Politologiczny” 2017, nr 3, pp. 184

[10] Shepherd, Laura J. “Gendering Security;” The Routledge Handbook of New Security Studies, edited by J. Peter Burgess. Routledge, 2010, pp. 73

[11] Shepherd, Laura J. “Gendering Security;” The Routledge Handbook of New Security Studies, edited by J. Peter Burgess. Routledge, 2010, pp. 75

[12] Shepherd, Laura J. “Gendering Security;” The Routledge Handbook of New Security Studies, edited by J. Peter Burgess. Routledge, 2010, pp. 77

[13] Skou, Viktoria. “Women in Dadaab:On the Gendered Insecurities in Forced Displacement.” Lunds universitet- Statsvetenskapliga institutionen, pp. 6.

[14] Skou, Viktoria. “Women in Dadaab: On the Gendered Insecurities in Forced Displacement.” Lunds universitet- Statsvetenskapliga institutionen, pp. 14.

[15] Sinead Murray and Anne Achieng, Gender-Based Violence Assessment Hagadera Refugee Camp Dadaab, Kenya (Nairobi: IRC, 2011), 4.

[16] Tickner, J. Ann. “Feminism and Security.” Security Studies: a Reader, edited by Hughes, Christopher. Routledge, 2011, pp. 48

[17] Tickner, J. Ann. “Feminism and Security.” Security Studies: a Reader, edited by Hughes, Christopher. Routledge, 2011, pp. 48

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Human rights and democracy in the covid-19 era: experience from Republic of Moldova

By Sorina Pinzaru

In this short article, student guest contributor Sorina Pinzaru reflects on the declaration of a State of Emergency in the Republic of Moldova during the covid era, and the ramification same has had for human rights and freedoms of its people.

Being a state that has been cultivating democratic principles for relatively few years, the Republic of Moldova is still strongly influenced by the long soviet experience. Principles such as the rule of law, separation of power, fundamental rights and freedoms are weak and not always fully guaranteed. Especially during a state of emergency, the exceptional legal order may lead the way for systematic human rights violations and undermine democratic principles. On the grounds of this, states of emergency are critically important from a human rights perspective. In order to limit freedoms and fundamental rights, constitutional and international provisions must be respected during a state of emergency.

For the first time in its history, the Republic of Moldova declared a state of emergency to deal with the pandemic. Although the Moldovan Constitution allows for a state of emergency, it does not define in detail what constitutes an emergency or regulates questions related to competence, limits, or controls. Accordingly, an organic law regulates all such aspects.

On March 17, 2020, the  Moldovan Parliament adopted Law no.54 to amend Law no. 212/2004 on the regime of the state of emergency, siege and war.  Article 20 of the law on the regime of the State of Emergency, Siege and War, which provides for the measures applicable during the state of emergency was supplemented by a new letter k). It allowed the “application of other necessary measures”.  A similar provision – exercise other necessary attributions-  was introduced in articles 22 (attributions of the Commission for Exceptional Situations of the Republic of Moldova), 24 (attributions of the Civil Protection Service and Exceptional Situations) and 25 (attributions of the Ministry of Interior). Furthermore, the part“adopt, amend or abrogate organic laws and electoral legislation” of article 4, para. 2, was cancelled.[1] In other words, organic laws and electoral legislation could be adopted, amended or abrogated during a state of emergency.  The amending law entered into force only after its publication in the Official Gazette, on March 18, 2020. On the same day, March 17, a Parliament Decision no. 55 was issued, declaring the state of emergency with an immediate effect.[2] When the amending law of the state of emergency regulation was modified, the state of emergency was already in force.

 At point 12 of article 2 of the Decision regarding the power attributions of the Commission for Exceptional Situations, the expression “application of other necessary measures” was proposed again to prevent, mitigate and eliminate the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19)”.

A group of MPs addressed the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Moldova with a petition to check on the constitutionality of the amending provisions on the State of Emergency, Siege and War and point 12 of Decision no. 55.[3] The petitioners claimed that adopting the contested provisions of Law no.54 and Decision no.55 on March 17, 2020, the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova defied the following fundamental constitutional principles and the expressed norms of the Supreme Law:

  • Art. 23 of the Constitution – The right of every person to know his duties;
    • Art. 54 of the Constitution – Restriction of the exercise of individual rights and freedoms.

The inclusion in Articles 20, 22, 24 and 25 of Law 212/2004 of expressions such as “application of other necessary measures” or “exercise other necessary attributions” defied the principle of predictability and accessibility of the Law provided in art. 23 of the Constitution. In order to meet the condition of predictability, the law must be sufficiently detailed so that a subject of law can reasonably understand the content of the law and be predictable in terms of its consequences.[4] Not only laws must be made known to the public, but the subject of law should reasonably expect the rule may be changed. It is practically infeasible to analyse the predictability of the amending provisions- “application of other necessary measures” or “exercise other necessary attributions”- as they thereof do not provide the necessary clarity about how and which rights and freedoms may be restricted. The provisions offer imprecise and generic power to the authorities. These may trigger harsh side effects.

The lack of a precise legal rule to determine exactly what measures might be applied, and the spectrum of the powers of the authorities, open the possibility of potential abuses by the competent authorities. The regulatory framework in such a sensitive period should be carried out in a transparent, predictable, and unobtrusive manner, to remove, as far as possible, the eventuality of any arbitrary situation or the abuse of those called to apply the provisions. However, this is impossible, because the subject of law does know what to expect from the authorities, due to the imperfection related to accuracy, clarity, predictability and necessity.

The notion of a state of emergency established in Article 1 defines as a set of measures with a political, economic, social character. Once established, these measures should be expressly provided by law, precise and predictable. Only in these conditions will be observed art.54 of the Constitution, which expressly establishes that rights and freedoms can be restricted only in the cases provided by law. However, by adopting Law no. 54 and the Decision no. 55, the Parliament admitted a norm by which the fundamental human rights and freedoms may be restricted by measures that are not provided by law.

According to Article 5 of Law no. 212 on the regime of the State of Emergency, Siege and War, during a state of emergency, may be restricted the exercise of individual rights or freedoms of citizens under art. 54 of the Constitution. The restrictions provided for in paragraph (1) should be in accordance with the obligations arising from international treaties on fundamental human rights to which the Republic of Moldova is a party.

Restriction of human rights and freedoms is an exception regulated by the fundamental law, which gives the legislators leverage to act in certain critical situations, being able to impose limits, in situations expressly provided for by the law, on guaranteeing certain fundamental rights. Reference should be made to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, namely Article 29 para. (2). In order to restrict individual rights, the provision shows the necessity of an expressed regulation, considering first of all the compliance with the principles of accessibility, clarity and predictability. The law within the meaning of this provision must provide exhaustive and precise perspectives on the rights and freedoms to be restricted.

The European Convention on Human Rights enshrines the possibility of the restriction of rights in several circumstances: in the case of the freedom of thought, conscience and religion. ECHR offers the same textual approach in the case of freedom of expression, the rights to respect for private and family life, as well as in the case of freedom of movement. It is emphasised the obligation of the state for providing the restriction of rights by law. In order to build a legislative framework designed to intervene promptly in the elucidation of exceptional situations, the legislative text should expressly provide for the rights and freedoms to be restricted.

The provisions of art. 4 paras. (1), art. 5 para. (2), art. 12 para. (3), arts. 18-19, art. 21, art. 22 para. (2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, lays down the manner of restricting certain rights. In the sense of this international norm, it is imperative to regulate the restriction by law but also to have specific reasoning.

In the context of the petition submitted to the Constitutional Court, the expressions used by the legislators in the text of the amending law: “application of other necessary measures” or “exercise other required tasks” do not offer the subject of law an expressed guarantee on the respect of rights and freedoms. In a state governed by the rule of law, the legal norm must always be interpreted prioritising the freedom over authority. This way of interpretation is natural since the text is aimed at guaranteeing the fundamental rights and freedoms. Where a term broadening the authority’s powers is used, the term must always be interpreted stricto sensu. In this context, expressed and specific provisions on the restriction of rights are necessary.

Law should guarantee the principles of predictability and accessibility. In the European Court of Human Rights’ jurisdiction it is important to ensure these two principles and to establish the conditions for a sufficient precision to regulate the conduct and foresee the consequences.

 The ECtHR recalls that a “law”, within the meaning of Article 10, section 2 of the Convention, is a rule formulated with sufficient precision allowing citizens to decide their conduct and foreseeing, reasonably, depending on the circumstances of the case, the consequences that might result from a particular fact.[5] On the contrary, the expressions introduced do not provide the possibility to anticipate certain events, requests or prohibitions from the authorities and does not offer the possibility to decide about the conduct not yet covered by the legal norms.

 Also, the activation of article 15 could be interpreted as a protection measure in favour of the state for not being accused at the European Court of Human Rights, it is a premise for Human Rights violations.

Having examined the request, the Moldovan Constitutional Court claimed that the authors of the petition were limited to a simple statement which criticised the provisions that would be likely to cause serious harm to human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Court considered that the arguments must be brought regarding the intensity and possible damages. Moreover, arguments supporting the imminent and irreparable negative consequences of the risk were needed. The Court considered the risk being abstract and a solid motivation was necessary in order to suspend the notified prohibitions under the State of Emergency. The mere invocation of the risk did not represent a sufficient and convincing motivation.  And the Court did not take into consideration any international obligation to which the Republic of Moldova must conform in order to constitutionally restrict the fundamental rights. Therefore, the Constitutional Court rejected the request, retaining it unmotivated, and did not consider the international obligations that must be respected.

Starting with May 17, 2020, the state of emergency has been continuing only in public health. It was prolonged for several times with the maintenance of most of the bans approved during the state of emergency.[6]

The organizational effort of the authorities was appreciable even if the efficiency in combating the spread of COVID-19 infection proved to be unsatisfactory. It suffered from the involvement of the political factor to the detriment of the professional one in the process of adopting and implementing measures to prevent and combat the spread of COVID-19 infection. The discussion and adoption of decisions on multiple platforms, with the participation of representatives of the country’s top leadership, was followed by the formalization of those decisions by the competent institutions. This has considerably diminished the share of the voice of medical professionals in the process of making final decisions.

The Commission for Exceptional Situations and the Extraordinary National Commission of Public Health did not have a clear and transparent decision-making mechanism. Consequently, several adverse effects emerged with a negative impact on human rights including the reduction to 48 hours of the term for contesting the administrative sanctions, not being guaranteed the rights to defence; a restricted term up to 24 hours to contest the provisions of the CSE without any possibility of rescheduling.[7]  Moreover, the effectiveness of deterrents for those who violated the restrictions imposed by the authorities during emergencies was undermined by the lack of adequate legal provisions for the application of individualized punishments, which were initially exaggerated and used arbitrarily to later be declared unconstitutional.[8] There has been an attempt to pass a law rapidly involving a loan agreement  with Russia which could have involved fraudulent schemes against citizens’ interests. The law however was declared unconstitutional.[9]

The Moldovan state has been challenged by the pandemic crisis: not only  because of the limited financial resources but especially because of the rule of law weakness which cannot guarantee the respect of human rights. Not having lived under a fully democratic regime for many decades is an important factor which explains the difficulty and the slowness that the country tries to overcome.

[1] Article 4, para. 2 of the Law no. 212/2004 on regime of the state of emergency, siege and war not amended: “During the state of emergency, siege or war, established throughout the country, it is not allowed to amend the Constitution, adopt, amend or repeal organic laws and electoral legislation, as well as conduct elections of central and local public authorities and republican and local referendums available at: .

[2] Parliament Decision no.55 available at: .

[3] Also art.2, point 12 , of the Decision no.55 provided for “exercise other necessary measures”.

[4] Case of Rotaru v. Romania, Application no. 28341/95, ECtHR Judgment of 04.05.2000.

[5] Case of Amihalachioaie v. Moldova, Application no. 60115/00 para. 25, ECtHR Judgment of 20.04.2004.





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What the world can learn from scenes at the United States Capitol Today, January 06, 2021 as Electoral College Votes are counted

By Matthew Nyanplu

Angry mobs, mainly pro Trump supporters today stormed the United States Capitol as Electoral College Votes are being counted to certify Democratic Joe Biden’s win of the US Elections of November 03, 2020. Mr Trump has not accepted defeat, and his supporters are hoping to take it by force.

These are some lessons we can learn from today’s scenes at the United States Capitol:

1.) If Mr Donald Trump was the President of a third world country, he would have out-rightly rigged the elections, and deployed state security forces to hold on to power. Today, the United States, the “greatest” nation of earth gets a feel of what dictators in third world countries do.

2.) Thankfully, we can trust the strength of US Institutions that this broad day power grab, no matter what, will not see the light of day. We believe the United States is strong enough to ensure that the will of its majority citizens who voted Joe Biden is respected. It says much about the difference between third world and consolidated democracies; and this is why leaders in third world countries often tamper with State Institutions. Because it is exactly at these moments that they endear state institutions to act towards their selfish ends, in violation of popular will. We trust the US will fend off this challenge and hopefully its citizens will NEVER toy with authoritarian tendencies.

3.) The third lesson is to us citizens from third world countries; we should also NOT toy with authoritarian and illiberal tendencies. As the United States situation shows to us, even the most sophisticated democracy is fragile, and democracy can be lost. As we vote, in spite of whatever disapproval of the political status quo, we should NEVER be tempted to try “non politicians” in political positions as high as the Presidency. The consequences are dire, most especially if such a figure shows gross disregard for established precedents and the most basic tenets of democracy, free expression. It can get worse as we see from the United States today. Mr Donald Trump is trying to superimpose himself on the people of the United States by stealing away the power that they took away from him on November 03, 2020. If this were a third world country, and Mr. Trump finding it difficult to get his will through, the military would have helped him, and we know too well the consequences, a civil war could be the ultimate end, and lives would be lost, maybe in the hundreds of thousands. Thankfully, we trust the United States is sophisticated for this, and we hope she fends this off and moves forward. The world is watching and the world looks to America for leadership of the free world.

Matthew Nyanplu is Student Chief Editor of this blog. He is pursuing a master of arts in international affairs at Johns Hopkins SAIS Europe.

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How the lack of an internationally coherent definition of trafficking-in-persons obscures the act, and abets perpetrators

Human trafficking continues to affect human lives around the world. It turns out that perpetrators find loopholes in the inconsistent definition of the act across countries to ply their trade. Different countries rely on their penal codes to define what constitutes a crime and what does not. But traffickers find havens in the fact that across borders, definitions diverge. Who a trafficker is in a particular country may differ based on criminal statutes. But the trade booms across borders. In this series looking at trafficking-in-persons, student bloggers Amber Malone and Nicolas Carpenter take on the issue and suggest ways how countries can coordinate their definition of the crime to act in a coordinated way against perpetrators, save victims, restore their human rights and dignity and stamp out the act.

Human trafficking is among the most pervasive crimes committed in the world. Human trafficking is present in every country and every region of the world. There seem to be no exceptions in terms cultures, economic prosperity, or political system. Wherever there is economic activity there is human trafficking. No one would dispute that human trafficking threatens lives, livelihoods and human dignity. Indeed, traffickers harm their victims and threaten the rule of law in the countries they operate. The European Union places it amongst other challenges to human rights and democracy as it robs victims of the right to self-determination, bodily autonomy, and the ability to provide for themselves. Undoubtedly it harms the individual’s human rights and is not conducive to any human society.

But what is human trafficking? The foremost obstacle in confronting human trafficking is simply creating an accurate perception and forming an agreed-upon definition among ordinary citizens, NGOs, and Governments. Without a coherent understanding of what human trafficking is perpetrators cannot be prosecuted, and victims will remain invisible in the discussion on rights enjoyment and protections. Without a better understanding of trafficking, identifying victims and giving them the help and support they need to escape exploitation become impossible.

Standing in the way of understanding human trafficking is the fact that organizations tasked with combating it define trafficking differently. The United Nations for example, defines it as, the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them.” While the U.S. Department of Homeland Security defines human trafficking as: “the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.” The difference is subtle, but important because to label an infraction a crime, such must be defined by statute. The American DHS only concerns itself with forced labor or sex work while the UN contends any use of force to exploit someone—for any reason—is human trafficking. The differences in definitions alters who is considered a perpetrator or a victim of trafficking. This is only a small sample of how differing Government and institutional arrangements define trafficking, and not how the differing definitions maybe influenced by different institutional goals. An NGO operating in the European Union to end trafficking among migrant communities will engage based on a different definition, while a law enforcement agency tasked with prosecuting perpetrators within the same location may use a different definition. The inconsistency in definition then creates a loophole which is exploited by perpetrators.

In addition, the gray area among refugees, stateless persons, and trafficked victims presents some conceptual challenges and, thus, hinders the provision of protection. In addition to refugees, stateless persons and trafficked victims are entitled to their fundamental human rights.  However, not all stateless persons or trafficked victims are refugees, and a substantial number of persons in both categories move irregularly. Stateless persons are not considered citizens of any State. Stateless persons can be refugees and, in this case, are entitled to the protections delineated in the 1951 Refugee Convention. For those who are not refugees, the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons regulates the services provided for stateless persons to ensure their full enjoyment of rights. Many stateless individuals risk becoming victims of trafficking. In addition, while trafficked victims maintain nationality even when they are moved across borders, traffickers may confiscate documents proving identity, essentially rendering their victims stateless. This scenario is particularly concerning as states lacking cooperative and efficient measures are unable to verify identities for repatriation. Trafficked victims – depending on their circumstances– who have been moved across international borders also should be protected as refugees until they are returned to their countries of origin.

Adding to the confusion is the wildly inaccurate portrayal of human trafficking in popular media. Such portrayal has so many inaccuracies attached to it that few people have a firm understanding of what trafficking in persons is. Movies and television programs create images of mobsters abducting tourists and young women being kidnapped in vans. Popular images of trafficking again obscure who is a victim. The stereotype is that underage girls are the primary target of trafficking. While it is true that women are in most circumstances at greater risk than men, in specific circumstances, more men than women are targeted for trafficking.

This leads to the second misconception popular culture has created around trafficking about why victims are trafficked in the first place. The misconception being that trafficking is most often done for the purposes of sex work. This is not always the case. In the parts of the European Union, labor trafficking is far more prevalent than sex trafficking. Wrapped up in the misconception about why victims are trafficked is again the question of who is trafficked. People of all genders can be and are labor-or-sex trafficked.

A third misconception about trafficking caused by popular culture is the medium through which people are trafficked. Images of victims being abducted by armed strangers is largely inaccurate. Many people are introduced to trafficking by people they know. Individuals can be victimized by or become victims of their acquaintances, friends, and even domestic partners. Recruiters use social media and the internet to great effect when finding new preys. Another popular trope is victims being taken from one country and forced to work in another. This is in fact not only trafficking, it is also smuggling. It is possible for victims to be both trafficked and smuggled but smuggling and trafficking are two different crimes, and conflating them makes it difficult to respond to either crimes effectively. It is true that international migrant workers are at risk of being trafficked, but many are trafficked after they arrive in a new country. All these confusions and incoherence in definitions make human trafficking difficult to combat.

The evident lack of a coherent definition of trafficking-in-persons between countries, and the fact that the crime is largely perpetrated across borders, in a sense, abets perpetrators. And until countries can coordinate their actions, efforts to stamp out the practice may continue to be elusive. Low reporting numbers from victims, the inability or unwillingness of law enforcement agencies to bring trafficking charges —or worse, the criminalizing of victims, and countless other challenges stand in the way of prosecuting traffickers and bringing justice to victims. For governments, civil society organizations, and society at large, responding to human trafficking with a clear-eyed understanding of the issue will go a long way in crafting and exacting effective countermeasures to stamp it out.


Amber Malone is a second-year Graduate Student in International Affairs at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). She previously worked in Public Policy and Communications with the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi.

Nick Carpenter is a first year Graduate Student in International Relations at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His concentration is Strategic Studies, focusing on global security challenges and how to address them.

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Save the date! The CCSDD will restart September 1


Ciao amici!

We hope you are staying safe and enjoying your summer! We at the CCSDD would like to wish our loyal followers a warm and restful August, and inform you all that we will resume our activities on September 1st. Until then, arrivederci!

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NATO’S Aspirations in the Constitutional Preamble of Ukraine: Distorting Historical Roots of the Constitution or Reflecting Societal Changes?

Click here to read about how states such as Ukraine formalize their desire for NATO membership within their own constitutions, according to CCSDD and Bocconi University professors Justin Frosini and Viktoriia Lapa.

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“Freedom of the Profession versus the Health Emergency: The Physical and Spiritual Protection of the Lutheran Citizen”

CCSDD researcher, Dr. Giuseppina Scala, has published a short chronicle on the Swedish government’s measures affecting the right to profess the Lutheran religion within the Kingdom of Sweden during the COVID-19 emergency. Her contribution is available on the DiReSom (Law and Religion in Multicultural Societies)
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The Rojava Experiment: Ideological Manifesto or New Legal Order? – Taysier Roberto Mahajnah


Taysier Roberto Mahajnah


The construction of the nation-state brings conflicting and contradictory elements. Hannah Arendt underlines that if these elements are subject to the State as a coerced apparatus to the functions of the Nation,[1] the conflictual aspects then become concretely worrying when the political borders do not overlap with ethnic ones, creating fractures within the democratic order. Secessions and declarations of independence could mitigate, in the short term, these fractures. In the same way, from these instruments, could be born again a nation-state with a different ethnic minority who will be affected. The punctum dolens, therefore, is not the legal instrument used; it is the State structure that manifests itself in a fragile way towards ethnic issues, especially present in the panorama of North-African and Middle-East countries. For this reason, it becomes necessary to consider a system that is an alternative to the state configuration, in which the powers (judicial, legislative, and executive) live in the social body. From this observation arises the fundamental question: “Can democracy exist without a state?” To answer, it is necessary to reconstruct one of the most important experiments: the “Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria”, commonly known as “Rojava”, a de facto autonomous region that is building its legal order on the anti-state idea. I will try to analyze the main pillars of “Rojava” such as its Constitution and its legislative and judicial functioning to understand if, despite the absence of a State apparatus (precisely a headless State), a binding legal order can exist.

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Forza Italia!…

Friends of the CCSDD, please consider donating to the GoFundMe fundraiser by Elif Nisa Polat:

Forza Italia!

The Fondazione Sant’Orsola ONLUS, in agreement with the Policlinico, has activated a fundraising campaign in support of the hospitals and healthcare staff in Bologna. This campaign will support 2 organizations in the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy:

1. Sant’Orsola Foundation, which supports hospitals in Bologna and health workers who are on the frontlines of the fight against the Coronavirus.

2. Civil Protection Agency, which provides wide-range support in identifying infected individuals, logistics, and emergency response.

The proceedings of this campaign will be split in half between those institutions in order to provide support to those trying to limit the spread of the virus and those treating patients. Even a small donation can help this campaign reach its fundraising goal. And if you cannot make a donation, please feel free to share and help spread the word!

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Montenegro Summer School 2020

The #CCSDD is pleased to announce the “EU and Legal Reform” 2020 Summer School will be held July 6 – 13 in Montenegro! The application process is open and a number of full and partial scholarships are available.

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