The Problem of Illegal Organ Trade

Topic Background: 

Illegal organ trade is classified as the removal of organs for the purpose of commercial trade, according to the World Health Organization.

Kidneys are the most common organ to be removed and sold. The WHO has justified that the search for organs has intensified around the world because of an increase in kidney diseases and not enough available kidneys. In 2005, only 10 percent of the estimated need was reached and thus illegal kidney trade has increased tremendously. Poverty and corruption are the underlining factors behind the sellers of illegal organ donation. They see this as the only way to earn good money. Therefore, likely buyers are those who have been waiting on transplant lists for months. Because of the frustration they commit the illegal act. In fact men and women in some countries who are buying these organs are in perfectly good shape and health.

Trafficking of organs occurs in probably three notable categories. Firstly, there are the cases where the buyers force or cheat the victims into giving up an organ. Secondly, there are cases where victims agree to sell an organ but are then deceived as they are not paid for the organ or are paid less than agreed on. Lastly, vulnerable victims are supposedly treated for an ailment and through the process (if it exists), their organs are removed without the victim’s knowledge or consent. Most trafficking for organ trade occurs for the most vulnerable victims that are migrant workers, homeless people, as well as illiterate people.


UN Involvement: 

Many transactions for organ donations were legal in most countries before the United Nation’s National Organ Transplant Act of 1984, which was a law that banned the selling of organs in many countries including the United States, China and the UK. The only country that has not yet banned organ trade is Iran.

Many international committees are involved in eradicating illegal organ trade such as the World Health Organization. There are also many international standards in place for trafficking of organs. The first is the UN protocol to prevent, suppress, and punish trafficking persons, which includes “organ removal: and the sale as an end purpose of trafficking”. Article three of this protocol states trafficking for the purpose of removal of organs. Second, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child’s protocol of 1989 clearly includes that the sale of children for the purpose of transferring their organs should be a criminal offense. Lastly, the World Health Organization has had a big say in the situation of illegal trade. The 1991 Guiding Principles on Human Organ Transplantation categorizes that the materialistic selling of organs is to be considered a “violation of human rights and human dignity”. 


Country Policy and Solutions: 

Illegal organ trade and the black market is a huge problem in lots of countries. The detrimental factors that affect organ trade such as money and gambling is very unfortunate and many poor people in rural countries are affected. Your job is to find out why this is still happening and come up with rules and protocol to prevent more illicit organ trade from occurring in your country. Make sure to stick with your country policy and research solutions that have already been implemented and if they are effective.


Keep in mind:


1. What are the previous solutions implemented in your country that prevents illegal organ trade?

2. Why is the black market still running?

3. What are the main underlying factors as to why people illicitly steal organs?

4. What do people that have been affected do and what options are there to console them and help them?





1. 58296_tool_9-19.pdf