Strategic Compliance in the Shadow of Transnational Anti-Trafficking Law.

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The enactment of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act ("TVPA") in 2000 marked the beginning of the ongoing systematic attempt by the United States of America to combat human trafficking transnationally. Through this Act, the United States employs a regime of positive and negative incentives aimed at pressuring other countries to comply with its minimum anti-trafficking standards. Very little empirical research has sought to understand how countries in the transnational shadow of the TVPA react to its requirements. Scholarship has especially neglected anti-trafficking efforts relating to the protection and rehabilitation of trafficking survivors, devoting significantly more attention to the TVPA's prevention and prosecution components. In an attempt to address this substantive and methodological lacuna, this Article reports a first-of-its-kind study. It analyzes the impact of the TVPA and U.S. anti-trafficking policy on a state's approach to noncitizen trafficking survivors within its borders. By interviewing officials, activists, professionals, and survivors of human trafficking in Israel, and by analyzing policy and legal documents and reports, the study highlights the effectiveness of the United States' transnational pressure in motivating Israeli authorities to assist trafficking survivors. Nevertheless, the study also reveals the ability of a pressured country to develop compliance strategies that allow it to satisfy U.S. demands while preserving sovereignty over its borders. Further, the study points to the often-ignored power of trafficking survivors to mobilize both the domestic legal system and global human rights discourse to their advantage and highlights how their notions of successful protective measures differ from those of the U.S. and Israeli governments. Finally, on a theoretical level, based on the empirical findings, the Article presents an innovative typology of compliance strategies and illuminates the importance of differentiating between "compliance" and "success," which are so often confused in literature on global governance in general and on the TVPA in particular. The findings and theoretical insights presented in the Article highlight the need to develop a model that treats superpower states, weaker states, and the survivors of human rights violations themselves as significant players in global normmaking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-64
Number of pages54
JournalHarvard Human Rights Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2015


  • EMPIRICAL research
  • HUMAN rights
  • HUMAN trafficking -- Law & legislation
  • LEGAL documents


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