Our Methodology

The Antislavery in Domestic Legislation Database collects and analyses the domestic legislation of all 193 United Nations Member States with regard to five severe forms of human exploitation enshrined in international law:

  • Slavery and the slave trade
  • Institutions and practices similar to slavery
  • Servitude
  • Forced or compulsory labour
  • Trafficking in persons

It collates the domestic legislative provisions contained in national laws, and compiles these with States' international commitments and other information both to make global antislavery laws more accessible, and to assist States in fulfilling their international commitments to prohibit these practices.

The data collection and analysis methodology is outlined below, however any queries about the project methodology may be directed to Dr Katarina Schwarz at

Data collection

All data included in the database has been drawn from publicly available, online sources. Searches were conducted in multiple languages to locate relevant legislation, and provisions translated by project assistants or automatic translation software where necessary. Relevant databases and repositories, as well as key reports and official documents, were also reviewed to identify relevant legislation cited in these texts.

Ratification and membership data for international instruments is drawn directly from the United Nations Treaty Collection, the International Labour Organisation's NORMLEX information system, and official websites of relevant regional organisations. Domestic legislation has been drawn from a wide variety of online sources. Among many others, the following sources have been included in our data collection: the Awad Report UN Doc E/4168/Rev.1, 1966; the Engen Report, UN Doc E/2673. 1955; the QUB Slavery in Domestic Jurisdictions dataset; UNODC's SHERLOC database; ILO's NATLEX database; the Constitute Project; US Department of State's Trafficking in Persons Reports; the Walk Free Foundation's Country Data; and States' own legislative websites.

Legislative provisions relevant to the forms of exploitation considered in the Project were then extracted from the texts. Provisions were selected not only for direct references to the relevant forms of exploitation, but for their relation to some element of the prohibition in question. Thus, the approach to extracting information from statutes was over-inclusive, and a range of provisions only peripherally related to the forms of exploitation were included for analysis. When working with foreign language documents, key word searches in the original language supplemented the review of the translated text ro ensure that any relevant provision was identified and extracted.

In total, over 700 pieces of domestic legislation have been collected to date, with thousands of relevant provisions drawn from their texts.

The analysis

The database, as it stands, does not make any assessments on the effectiveness of domestic legislative provisions, or their alignment with international definitions. Rather, it assesses whether a State has a provision addressing the relevant form of exploitation. Under this approach, a State with any legislation addressing the form of exploitation, in whole or in part, is registered as having legislative provisions in place on the basis of a binary scoring system.

Findings presented in the summary materials relate to the analysis of these binary scores, and are therefore based on over-inclusive decisions as to what counts as a relevant provision addressing the practice in question. International definitions from the international instruments identified above form the touchstone for broad considerations of relevance, with provisions covering specifically addressing even a subset of the practices counting as a positive result. These definitions are addressed in greater depth in the Definitions Resource. Thus, conclusions drawn on the existence of legislation in relation to each kind of exploitation for each State are over-inclusive. States with provisions that do not fully encompass the relevant practice as defined in international law are still identified as having provisions in place.

It is therefore up to users to assess the terms of the provisions outlined in the country pages, to make value judgements on the extent to which this satisfies the State's international obligations.


Although the database incorporates legislation from all 193 UN Member States, it should be recognised that there are challenges to the global collection and analysis of legislation that had to be faced in the process. Issues relating to the availability of legislation, languages of publication, difficulties in translating legal provisions, and differences in the structures of national legal systems, should all be noted as inherent challenges to developing a global dataset of domestic legislation. These challenges have been offset by utilising key search terms in multiple searches, triangulating sources, and the use of translation software to translate material to English where necessary.

It should also be noted that the database focuses specifically on national legislation. The result of this is that state-level provisions in federal jurisdictions are not considered in the analysis. The direct application of international norms at the domestic level in dualist States is also not accounted for in considering the presence of provisions.

Further challenges arise in the attempt to create a quantitative metric for assessing States’ compliance with their international obligations to prohibit the various forms of human exploitation. Rather than making determinations on States' compliance, the database simply presents the relevant legislative provisions, and identifies whether any provision of the relevant type has been enacted. The quantitative measure is therefore a binary score representing whether legislation exists, rather than a score determining the extent to which the provision aligns with, or satisfies, the international obligation to prohibit the practice in question.

Acknowledging the limitations of this data collection exercise, we invite States and other experts to contribute additional evidence and legislation to the database. This is a live project, which continuously seeks to improve the quality of the evidence available for analysis and use by stakeholders. New evidence is welcome and can be submitted (and gaps in existing evidence flagged) through the Contribute page.

A Mackman Group collaboration - market research by Mackman Research | website design by Mackman