A joint study by the United Nations and the Council of Europe on Tuesday called for a new international convention to stop trafficking in organs, tissues and cells.
The study, unveiled at a press conference at UN headquarters, said a key aim was to ban financial gain in the use of the human body and its parts for transplantation.
It said preference should be given to organ, tissue and cell donation from the deceased and stressed the need to "establish organizational measures to increase organ availability."
The joint study highlighted what it described as widespread confusion in the legal and scientific community between trafficking in "OTC" - organs, tissues and cells - and "trafficking in human beings for the purpose of the removal of organs."
The authors, from the United States, Spain and Austria, said one of their objectives was to distinguish between the two types of trafficking, which require different solutions.
They stressed the need to collect reliable data on both, given that there was little official information about the number of victims and trafficked OTC.
They made clear that their study focused only on trafficking in OTC for the purpose of transplantation.
The study pointed to a high number of unreported cases of both types of trafficking, due to low risks and huge profits for perpetrators.
OTC trafficking often takes the form of what is known as "transplant tourism," with high-paying recipients, usually from wealthier nations, traveling to obtain organs in countries where measures to prevent the crime or protect live donors are not in place or not implemented.
Five to 10 per cent of kidney transplants performed annually around the world are estimated to be the result of trafficking.
The joint study also called for an internationally agreed definition of "trafficking in OTC," with the involvement of all relevant players.
It said the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, and the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children, already contain appropriate measures to combat trafficking in human beings for organ removal.
The 47-member Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg, France, seeks to develop throughout Europe common and democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights and other reference texts on the protection of individuals.