Game Theory and the Human Trafficking Dilemma

Felicity Gerry QC, Siva Vallabhaneni, Peter Shaw

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The discourse around non-liability for Human Trafficking Victims (HTVs) who commit crime has been largely altruistic (for a full analysis see Muraszkiewics). However, there is Protecting Victims of Human Trafficking From Liability: Palgrave Studies in Victims and Victimology. The European Approach 2018. However, there is a limit to altruism where there is also a victim of crime, which may explain why global implementation of commitments to protect HTVs has been haphazard. This article uses mathematics and modeling to attempt to prove why to achieve non-liability for HTV’s who commit crime, specific legal frameworks are necessary, not merely policy considerations. We begin by outlining the international legal commitment under the United Nations Trafficking Protocol, then contrast implementation in the United Kingdom and Australia. We then evaluate the effectiveness of implementation using Nash’s seminal solution to noncooperative games and the mathematical framework described by Slantchev through the social behaviour typology established by Martin Shubik and others in Game Theory and Related Approaches to Social Behavior (1964). Finally, we remark that the failures in implementation are exacerbated by traditional systems which tend to see any vulnerability as mitigation of sentence not non-liability. We conclude that, logically, only a combination of diversionary policy together with complete legislative defenses implemented at domestic level will fulfill international commitments to protect those trafficked to commit crime. Game theory helps to prove the obvious.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)168-186
    Number of pages18
    JournalJournal of Human Trafficking
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2019


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