Debate: Forced Labour, Slavery and Human Trafficking: When do definitions matter?


  • Roger Plant



We can spend a lot of time debating the connections or essential differences between the concepts of trafficking, forced labour, slavery and modern slavery, or slavery-like practices. Some insist that trafficking is a subset of forced labour, others the reverse. The arguments between academics, bureaucracies and even government agencies have often been vitriolic.


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Author Biography

Roger Plant

Roger Plant is an independent writer, trainer and consultant from the United Kingdom (UK). Between 2002–2009 he was the Head of the International Labour Organization’s Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour. With degrees from Oxford University, UK, and visiting academic positions at universities including Columbia University and University of Notre Dame, United States of America, he has written several books and other publications. His book Sugar and Modern Slavery, published in the mid-1980s, was one of the first to draw attention to new forms of forced labour and trafficking in today’s global economy. He is the Chairperson of the UK-based non-governmental organisation FLEX (Focus on Labour Exploitation). In November 2010 he received the William Wilberforce Freedom Award in Los Angeles in recognition of his global work against modern slavery. Email:




How to Cite

Plant, R. (2015). Debate: Forced Labour, Slavery and Human Trafficking: When do definitions matter?. Anti-Trafficking Review, (5).