Human Rights Lawyer


Areas of Expertise
Civil Society, Comparative Politics, Development of International Law, European Union, Global Governance, Human Rights, Human Security, Human Trafficking, Immigration, International Affairs, International Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law, International Justice, International Law, International Organizations, Organized Crime, Post-conflict reconstruction and development, Poverty and Inequality, Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Refugees and Displacement, Sexual Violence in Conflict, Transitional Justice, Treaties, UN Human Rights System, United Nations, Violence Against Children, Violence Against Women, Women’s Rights

Region of Focus
Europe, North America, The Middle East

Ms. Gunilla S. Ekberg is a respected Swedish-Canadian human rights lawyer (Barrister & Solicitor, B.C., 2001), and international expert on gender equality and human trafficking. For six and half years, Ms. Ekberg held the position as Special Advisor to the Swedish government on trafficking in human beings, responsible for developing legislation, public policies and strategies. She was responsible for the coordination of all government actions on gender equality and trafficking in human beings, and represented the Swedish government in numerous international and regional bodies.

Ms. Ekberg is a respected legal scholar, researcher, speaker and writer, who is regularly called upon to act as an expert on gender equality, human rights, and trafficking in human beings to international bodies, parliamentary commissions, and statutory and law enforcement agencies. Since many years, as a sough-after international expert, she provides legal, policy and technical advice on good practices in relation to the prevention, protection and prosecution of trafficking in human beings within a gender equality framework to national, federal and local governments, most recently in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Canada and Belgium. For several years, she held the position as co-executive director of a United Nations ECOSOC-accredited international non-governmental organization. Ms. Ekberg has directed several multi-lateral government and national projects on the prevention and combat of trafficking in human beings, including for forced labour e.g. in the Baltic countries, Russia, and within the European Union. She has carried out academic research projects and studies on related topics; in 2016 for the Belgian federal State Secretary for Equal Opportunities, 2016-2019 through a European Commission-funded, six Member State research project involving European Union laws and policies in regard to prevention of the demand for trafficking in human beings, and currently as a lead researcher for an independent analytical report of the implementation of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act of Northern Ireland.

Ms. Ekberg participated in the negotiations for the United Nations Palermo Protocol, and in negotiations during several sessions of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, including as an official NGO-delegate for the Canadian government. As a government advisor, she actively contributed to the drafting of the Council of Europe Convention on Actions against Trafficking in Persons, and several of the European Union Directives on trafficking in human beings. Over the years, Ms. Ekberg has presented many times to the United Nations Human Rights Council/Commission, and other United Nations entities. Since 2009, Ms. Ekberg acts as an expert evaluator and advisor to the European Commission on topics such as violence against women and children, gender equality, non-discrimination and LGBTI rights, the human rights of people with disabilities, accused and prisoners’ rights and criminal justice, and within the academic framework of Horizon 2020.

Ms. Ekberg collaborates, since the mid-1990’s, with human rights and equality-seeking organizations around the world on different undertakings concerning human rights, gender equality, violence against women and trafficking in human beings. She has developed an extensive network of collaborators in Europe, North America, Asia and the MENA region. For many years, Ms. Ekberg worked as a social worker with direct service provision and policy advocacy in several countries in Europe and North America. Ms. Ekberg teaches academic and capacity building courses and workshops for graduate students and national human rights defenders internationally on different aspects of international human rights law through e.g. the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, in Sweden, the University of Winnipeg in Canada, and the Danish Institute for Human Rights in Copenhagen, Denmark. She regularly conducts workshop and seminars for different audiences, including statutory agencies, law enforcement and non-governmental organizations internationally. Most recently in 2018, she developed and taught a university research course on international human rights and violence against women for law professors at two universities in Myanmar.

Ms. Ekberg holds Swedish and Canadian citizenship and speaks and conducts business in four languages fluently; English, French, Swedish and Danish.

Recent Publications

Ekberg G.S. (2019) ”The Swedish Approach to Prostitution and Trafficking in Human Beings Through a Gender Equality Lens.” In: Winterdyk I., Jones J. (eds) The Palgrave International Handbook of Human Trafficking. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Ekberg, Gunilla S. et al., Swedish Laws, Policies and Interventions on Prostitution and Trafficking in Human Beings: A Comprehensive Overview (Stockholm, Sweden, 24 February 2018) (42 pp).

Ekberg, Gunilla S. et al., A Snapshot Study of the Prevalence, Laws, Policies and Practices regarding Prostitution and Trafficking in Human Beings for the Purpose of Sexual Exploitation in Belgium (Brussels, Belgium: Ministry for Equal Opportunities, Vrouwenraad and Conseil des Femmes Francophone de Belgique (21 October 2016) (pp. 356).