Illicit organ trafficking at a global level has turned into a lucrative market and unfortunately, this is a lesser discussed form of human trafficking. In 1991, the WHO’s guiding principles on organ transplantation were approved at the 44th World Health Assembly. In 2004, the World Health Assembly issued a resolution for all WHO member states to prohibit transplant tourism. Further, it called for international cooperation through guidelines for ethical organ procurement based on suitability and safety. It also emphasized the need for cooperation from national oversight committees to ensure implementation.
However, there is no organized body or all-encompassing piece of legislation or convention that deals with this menace at the international front. It is imperative for both developed and developing countries to formulate a systematized method to curb illicit organ trade.
Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs:
The UN as of now has no convention in place whereas the European Union in 2015 introduced the above mentioned convention which was the first ever organ trafficking treaty signed by 14 European nations including Britain, Italy, etc. The purpose of the convention is to prevent and combat trafficking in human organs by providing for criminalization of certain acts. The convention establishes criminal penalties on the non- consensual removal of organs and removal of organs for financial gain from or by the deceased donors.
Illicit Organ Trade & the Sustainable Development Goals:
Among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the introduction of a convention banning illicit trade will further the aim of the 3rd SDG which is to provide good health and well-being of all. It will also address the issue of poverty, a major factor contributing in such illicit trade which is the 1st SDG namely, eradication of poverty. Moreover, banning illicit trade is essential to promote inclusive, sustainable economic growth and decent work for all which is the 8th SDG.
Combating illicit organ trade is a lengthy process but an internationally adopted convention is the first step for achieving it.