What’s the Mission? Discursive Power and Human Rights–Based Language in Anti-Trafficking Organizations

Published March 21, 2020


Journal of Human Rights and Social Work (2020)


One of the ways individuals or groups in power preserve their power is through the vehicle of language. As such, the message that an organization sends regarding its mission, vision, values, and or goals is just as important as the actual services with which it provides. Nowhere is this truer than within the realm of anti-trafficking service provision. Through content analysis of the mission, goal, vision, and value statements of 162 organizations who are funded to combat human trafficking, the research team examined how organization statements articulate a human rights–based approach. The study findings were that organizations who further the primacy of rights did it in four distinct ways: advocating for human rights seeing human rights as something survivors lack empowering survivors and viewing survivors as rights-holders. However, overall, there is still an under-utilization of human rights as a framework.

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