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The Issue Of Organ Trafficking

Student Officer:

Alp Yavuz (President of ECOSOC)



The exchange of money or other benefits in return for one’s organs is called organ trade.
According to the
United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human

organ trafficking “
curs in three broad categories:
The deception of the victim to into giving up an organ, not paying the full promised fee and
forcibly removing
vulnerable people’s organs.

("Trafficking for Organ Trade")

In many countries of the world

there are pressing shortages of organs for people wa
for organ
traders gain huge amounts of money

by economically
vulnerable people into selling
heir organs to wealthy patients.

(Shimazono )

The existence of worldwide operating organ gangs pose a threat to
both donors and receptors in many ways. The most notable of these threats is sanitary risks involved in the process
of obtaining the organ from the donor and transplanting it to the recep

Globalization facilitates the illegal transportation of organs as technology used to preserve organs for long
duration becomes more available and less hindrances in travelling makes organ trafficking more profitable.
Usually organ traffickers acquire

the organs from Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs) and sell them
in More E
conomically Developed Countries

Although organ trafficking

is almost universally illegal

and there are certain intern
ational treaties that
forbid its


nforcement is inadequate.
The committee should focus on possible institutional solutions to
sustain organ transplantation as well as combating illegal organ trafficking.


Involved Countries and Organizations


Iran has a

policy on organ trading. The state allows and regulates kidney trading. Therefore

state enables all patients in need of kidney transplants to fulfill their needs without allowing space to illegal
(The Economist

Iran’s police relates
black market economics. In countries where organ trade is illegal

most people who
are in need of organs prefer to abide by the law and wait for donors who willingly donate their organs. However

some people prefer to seek alternative ways. Middlemen

find impoverished people who are willing to illegally sell
their organs to wealthy donor who would pay for their organs. Or middlemen exploit people through trickery and
obtain the organs without any payment. Then they sell the organs to wealthy people
in need of them. The
middlemen make huge profits because their services are extremely expensive due to the risks involved. Meanwhile
the government spends money to prevent
trafficking, sometimes to no avail.

Some economists claim that if the

government legalizes organ trade, the money spent to prevent organ
trafficking would be saved. Moreover both receptors and donors would be able to have the operations in medical
institutions rather than unsanitary illegal places.
(The Economist

Iran’s m
odel can set example to other countries.


The Philippines

The Philippines is

a country that allowed organ trade until 2008.

However, according to the European
Society for Organ Transplantation

the Philippines is still a country that sells kidneys illegally.

According to one
sourceabout 50% of the sold organs go abroad although there is 10% limit.
("Monsters and C
ritics" )

Moreover the
organization states that the Philippines is a common destin
ation for organ tourism.


the Philippines is a
typical country whose economically disadvantaged population suffers from organ trafficking.



China had a controversial policy of using executed

prisoners’ organs for donation.

Considering the high
numbers of judicial executions, the government was able to satisfy the demand of organs, to some degree. There
were claims that some of the organs obtained from executed prisoners were sold to foreigners. In

2009 the
government ann
ounced that it will now initiate a program to encourage voluntary donations.
(BBC News


There were alleged cases of organ theft in Kosovo during the Kosovo War, perpetrated by KLA(Kosovo
Liberation Army. KLA’s independence war against Serbia allege
dly included practices of torture and forced
removal organs from Serbian prisoners of war, and Kosovans who did not support the war.

Human Rights Watch(HRW) calls for EULEX(European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo) to take control of
the investigation
and urges the EU and the US to be active.

On the other hand the President of Albania rejected
claims of organ theft or torture during the Kosovo War firmly.

Investigate Alleged KLA Crimes

Human Rights Watch

HRW monitors illegal organ
trafficking in countries. One of the most notable researches of the
organization was done on Kosovo.


Focused Overview of the Issue

The main cause of illegal organ traffic
king is the insufficiency of
available legal donations. Organ
transplantation offers help to patients suffering from organ dysfunction.
In most cases

patients pay broker
s who in
return find them

willing to sell them their organs.

Brokers reserve most of the
money to themselves whi
le theypay
donors very
low amounts, which differ through

Although this sy
stem might be seen as an

primitive and unhygienic methods used in the removal of the org
an and the transplantati
on often lead
to death or permanent

Moreover another cause of ethical debate is the obligation of economically
disadvantaged people to donate organs.

Impoverished people sell their organs for prices much less than the money
paid by the receptors. Meanwhile brokers earn money for managing a
n illegal act.

This dimension of the issue
related with economic exploitation.

Most of the organ trade occurs in LEDCs. Also in LEDCs

vulnerable people
are forced into giving their organs with no payment.

In developed countries usually im
and unemployed
young me
n resort to selling their organs as a means of creating income. As the development level of a country

the price of an organ increases.

Citizens of developed countries travel to developing countries to have
illegal organ
transplantation surgeries, which they would be unable to have in their home countries. The lax
regulations and enforcement in developing countries allow such practices. Moreover organized crime syndicates
control and run the organ trade in these countries
, creating powerful obstacles to weak law enforcement agencies.

The terror created by these syndicates often reach innocent people. In one incident a Belarusian,
AliakseiYafimau, was kidnapped to Ecuador to have one of his kidneys removed for sale to an
Israeli buyer.

crime organization threatened to kill him, should he try to run away before the surgery or talk the police. (Smith,
Krasnolutska , and Glovin )

Law enforcement officers worldwide agree that huge profits involved will attract criminals

to continue
their organ trade business with no regard to the health of the victims.


For example a kidney approximately costs 30.000 USD in the United States while it costs 6.000 USD in
Turkey and 1500 USD in the Philippines

A controversial proposal put forward by many people, most notably the Singaporean health minister Khaw
Boon Wan, is to legalize organ trade. This way, according to the market equilibrium theory, the demand and
supply will be equalized, eliminating the uns
atisfied demand for organs and thus organ trade mafia.

Some organizations claim that developed countries silently encourage organ trafficking by not effectively
combating organ trade.

By not blocking organ trade
they let the need for organs in t
heir country be supplied.

The lack of adequate legal basis is one of the foremost reasons of insufficiency in combating organ trade.
Also the lack of international cooperation enables traffickers to work globally. For example citizens of Less
y Developed Countries (LEDCs)

are smuggled into developed countries where their organs are sold
either forcibly or for prices much below the actual price.


Key Vocabulary

Organ transplantation is the inserting of an organ from another
person to the patient to replace an
organ that does not function properly.

Organ Trafficking:

Illegally moving organs for the purpose of transplantation.

Economic exploitation:

In this case; taking advantage of a person’s poverty in order to acquire his
/her organs to
sell to other people for making economic profit.


Important Events & Chronology

Date (Day/Month/Year)



Convention On The Rights of Children


Optional Protocol On The Sale Of Children, Child Prostitution and
Child Pornography


European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine Concerning
Transplantation of Organs and Tissues of Human Origin


Protocol To Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons,
Especially Women and Children


Past Resolutions and Treaties

No resolutions on the issue have

been passed. However UN has passed the abovementioned protocols and

that are either directly or indirectly involved with combating organ trafficking.

None of them have
been in any way sufficient to stop or decrease organ trafficking.

The European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine Concerning Transplantation
of Organs and
Tissues of Human O
rigin approved by the European Union is the most direct
treaty on the subject. The Convention
aims to protect the victims of organ trade by providing a EU
wide legal basis.

However Europe still remains a
destination for organ trade and developing countri
es near the EU such as Kosovo and Turkey are active in organ


Failed Solution Attempts

Due to the nature of the issue it is not possible to claim any of the past attempts has definitely failed.


Possible Solutions

A thorough review
of the legal documents, such as the treaties and conventions about the issue should be
examined to add further clauses that would cover for any missing parts or would allow law enforcement agencies to
combat organ trafficking with more solid legal basis.
Apart from providing the legal basis for the fight against


organ trafficking

effective and applicable practical solutions should be put forward. Simply suggesting that law
enforcement should do its best does not ha
ve any real contribution to
solving the

In terms of the economic dimension, black market economics should be studied. According to black
market economics

if the government legalizes organ trade it will spare the money saved on preventive measures
and earn an additional income through t
axes on traded organs. Also medical operations will be done under with
compliance to government regulations and therefore unsanitary conditions risking the health of donors and
receptors will be minimized.

Support groups for victims in both developing
and developed countries could be considered to help victims
with finding economic opportunities to not seek ways such as organ trafficking to earn money.


Useful Links

, a useful website explaining black market
economics. Black market economics are applied to organ trade.
, United Nations Global Initia
tive to Fight Global Trafficking
, Reliable news
source. Some of the statistics and facts in this report were taken from BBC
, Ca
n be useful in understanding the possible effects of legalizing organ trade
Human Rights Watch.
Focuses on human right violations and organ trade mafia syndicates in
developing countries
, European Society for Organ Transplantation.


Works Cited

United Nations .Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking.

Trafficking for Organ Trade
. 2012. Web.

Shimazono , Yosuke . United Nations .World Health Organization.

state of the international organ trade: a
provisional picture based on integration of available information
. Web.


Human Rights Watch.

Kosovo/Albania: Investigate Alleged KLA Crimes
. 2012. Web.

Bos, Michael. European Society for

Organ Transplantation.
Transplantation Tourism and Organ Trafficking
. Web.

"In Filipino organ trade, poor sell kidneys for quick buck."
monsters and critics
. 21 June 2008: n. page. W
eb. 13

"China admits death row organ use."

BBC News
. 26 August 2009 : n. page. Web. 13 Sep.

Sarvestani ,Nima . "Iran's desperate kidney traders."

. 31 October 2006: n. page. Web. 13 Sep.

"Psst, wanna buy a kidney?."

. 16 Nov 2006 : n.
page. Web. 13 Sep.

Smith, Michael, DarynaKrasnolutska , and David Glovin. "Organ Gangs Force Poor to Sell Kidneys for Desperate

. 02 Nov 2011: n. page. Web. 16 Sep. 2012.<


Ritter, Peter. "Legalizing the Organ Trade."

TIME World
. 19 Aug 2008: n. page. Web. 16 Sep.