Hodzic ’13 Examines Human Labor Trafficking Through U.N. Internship

Jasmina Hodzic '13, left, with Katharina Kloss, the editor of Cafe Babel.
Jasmina Hodzic '13, left, with Katharina Kloss, the editor of Cafe Babel.

The issue of human sex trafficking has long been on the radar of international lawmakers and humanitarian organizations, but the recently emerged problem of human labor trafficking is just now beginning to come under national and international scrutiny. Jasmina Hodzic ’13 is interning at the United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina with the support of a Levitt Center Public Service Grant. The IOM’s mission is to promote the “link between migration and economic, social and cultural development as well as the right to freedom of movement… led by the premise of ‘migrations for the benefit of all.’”

Hodzic chose to intern at the IOM because she wanted to gain exposure to working in a large intergovernmental organization. She said that working at the IOM is a good fit for her because “migrations is a cross-cutting issue that can be addressed through a multitude of lenses including human rights, security, economic development, integration policies and labor policies.”

Hodzic’s work within the agency specifically pertains to the issue of labor trafficking and labor exploitation. She says that many migrants who are illegally trafficked into countries in Eastern Europe and exploited by their employers have no means of seeking justice. Illegal migrants are often deported to their home countries if their presence is discovered by authorities, and they have no legal means of seeking financial reparations from employers who force them to work for substandard wages. Hodzic’s job is to draft a policy proposal to be used as a guideline by lawmakers in future legislative efforts to curb this problem.

Despite the IOM’s high international profile, the agency does not have the stiff bureaucratic atmosphere that Hodzic expected to encounter. Rather, the agency maintains an informal work environment and is filled with “highly idealistic people who are … working on issues that they are truly passionate about,” creating a work environment in which Hodzic can thrive. The small size of the office means that she takes on a significant amount of responsibility and independence as she completes her work. She is motivated by the fact that the field of labor exploitation is relatively unexplored, meaning that her work is making a small but direct contribution toward providing justice for victims of trafficking.  

In addition to working in her official capacity at the IMO, Hodzic has also had the opportunity to attend a number of special events and to even meet foreign dignitaries, including United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

She also attended the Sarajevo Film Festival – which is perhaps the most well-known film festival in Eastern Europe – as a correspondent for online magazine Café Babel. The festival began in 1995 during the siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War as a symbol of peace and solidarity. Today the film festival hosts more than 200 mostly independent films and is attended by Hollywood stars including Angelina Jolie and director Bela Tarr.

Hodzic credits this summer’s internship with introducing her to the career field of international policy and research. She feels that her work with migrants has the potential for worldwide impact and has appreciated the direct exposure to work in the United Nations that this internship has given her.

Hodzic is a graduate of United World College (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

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