About the Author: Ambassador Luis CdeBaca directs the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
The state of the global fight against modern slavery is summarized each year in the United States' Trafficking in Persons Report, which gauges countries' progress in combating human trafficking and makes recommendations for the next year. Each issue of the Report has seen more and more countries adopting modern anti-slavery policies and practices. Released to great fanfare in June of each year, the Report doesn't just provide a snapshot of the situation; it also drives diplomatic engagement and governmental responses.
While the Report is an occasion for publicity, analysis, and engagement, the real action in the fight against modern slavery takes place throughout the year, too often unpublished and unseen, through the ongoing efforts of U.S. diplomats in Washington and in our embassies around the world. Our staff works daily with foreign governments and non-governmental organizations to fight this heinous crime. U.S. diplomatic and programmatic achievements have included the passage of comprehensive anti-trafficking laws, the support and establishment of shelters for victims, increased conviction rates, and public awareness campaigns on demand for commercial sex. We are marshalling the resources of the entire State Department to tackle the issue of human trafficking worldwide and to embed it within our foreign policy.
Keeping the hard work of the anti-trafficking actors across the globe in mind, here are a few notable moments and themes for 2010.
• No one can forget the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Anti-trafficking experts participated in the disaster response, ensuring that protections for trafficking victims and those most vulnerable to trafficking, particularly children, were incorporated into the plans to rebuild. My office swiftly awarded $1.4 million in new grants to aid in the efforts and was appropriated an additional $5.5 million by Congress to strengthen Haitian institutional and civil society capacity to identify and respond to human trafficking. We expect to make nine awards to public international and non-governmental organizations this year.
• Concerned that "millions of people worldwide are held in compelled service, as well as thousands within the United States," President Obama declared January to be National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The President urged us to "acknowledge that forms of slavery still exist in the modern era, and recommit ourselves to stopping the human traffickers who ply this horrific trade."• On February 3, 2010, Secretary Clinton chaired the first meeting of the President's Interagency Task Force under the Obama Administration where she said, "Let's call it what it is -- modern slavery." Three notable areas for focus that the Cabinet Members agreed upon were the need for an increase in actionable intelligence, full implementation of the Federal Acquisition Regulation related to trafficking, and expanding anti-trafficking work into broader whole-of-agency efforts. Together, the Task Force released a joint statement of commitment to action.
• 2010 brought us closer to increasing labor rights for domestic workers, often left vulnerable to physical and sexual servitude in an unregulated and invisible workplace. In June 2010, the International Labor Conference voted in support of developing a Convention with Recommendation on domestic workers. The U.S. delegation received a standing ovation for its opening statement in support of a Convention with Recommendation. The draft Convention is circulating for comments and will be submitted for possible adoption in 2011.
• Contemporaneously, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe hosted the first-ever European forum on combating domestic servitude, bringing together diplomats, police, and NGOs to highlight best practices and raise awareness of this unseen crime. Increasingly, foreign governments are putting prevention mechanisms in place, adding employer requirements that protect workers, and holding their own diplomats accountable despite diplomatic immunity.
• On June 14, 2010, Secretary Clinton launched the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report, which, for the first time, included a ranking and full country narrative for the United States. She also introduced and thanked the nine heroes named in the Report for their contributions in law enforcement, victim protection, prevention, and labor rights, including the first-ever American hero, Laura Germino of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Since the inception of the Report in 2001, the number of countries included and ranked has more than doubled to include 177 countries in the 2010 Report.
• In the Report, we noted that while signatories to the Palermo Protocol are supposed to follow the 3P paradigm of prevention, protection, and prosecution, victim protections remain largely absent worldwide. They are either not included in anti-trafficking legislation or are not implemented. Far too often, we continue to see detention and deportation rather than shelter and comprehensive services. This is a message we carried throughout the globe in 2010 and will continue in 2011.
• The UN adopted a Global Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons on July 30, 2010. It recognizes the primacy of the Palermo Protocol and promotes the Protocol's ratification and implementation, incorporating a victim-centered approach and addressing demand for all forms of trafficking. We hope that Global Plan of Action will be an important tool in encouraging regional fora such as the African Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, to adopt regional action plans that follow modern definitions and the 3P ethos, as we have recently seen at in the Organization of American States and the European Union.
• More conferences, trainings, and technical assistance were devoted to all forms of trafficking in persons, as foreign governments that had previously addressed only sex trafficking struggled to discover and implement best practices for identifying, investigating, and prosecuting forced labor as well. Slowly, there is recognition that proactive identification strategies must be to find these cases, which tend to use less obvious techniques to compel labor in their use of economic and psychological coercion. The United States continues to urge that administrative labor remedies alone are an insufficient response to a crime that both the TVPA and the Palermo Protocol place on par with rape, murder and kidnapping. There are also nascent efforts that address the interconnectedness of forced labor with recruiting and visa schemes, a true prevention effort.
• In 2010, G/TIP made 97 grant awards in 51 countries in all regions of the world, totaling $33,372,035 -- 18 in Africa, 17 in East Asia and the Pacific, 5 in Europe and Eurasia, 7 in the Near East, 10 in South and Central Asia, and 26 in the Western Hemisphere. This is the only foreign assistance program dedicated solely to combating human trafficking outside the United States and it is critical to the U.S. government's global effort to combat trafficking. Presently, the office has over 230 open projects in 77 countries totaling over $75.3 million.
• On November 9, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the TVPA and the Palermo Protocol, Secretary Clinton published an Op-Ed in newspapers worldwide advocating for a redoubling of efforts in this fight, stating, "I hope that the countries that have not yet acceded to the U.N. Trafficking Protocol will do so. Many other countries can still do more to strengthen their anti-trafficking laws. And all governments can devote more resources to finding victims and punishing human traffickers."• The Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime adopted a decision that tasks the UN Office on Drugs and Crime with compiling best practices to counter demand for labor, services or goods associated with human trafficking. The information to be compiled by UNODC will help member states expand their prevention efforts beyond information campaigns.
• The 111th Congress was active in this fight, and I was called to testify before several bodies: I spoke at briefings hosted by the Human Trafficking Caucus, and offered formal testimony in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Helsinki Commission, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, and the Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. I look forward to working with all of our representatives in the 112th Congress.
• Secretary Clinton's creation of a fourth 'P' of partnership in the fight against trafficking informs all of our work either in coordination with other federal agencies, the private sector, academic institutions, or NGOs. We collaborated with UC Berkeley School of Law to assess promising government practices in prevention and protection. With the State Department's Senior Advisor for Innovation, we coordinated with the University of Southern California Annenberg School's Center on Communication Leadership & Policy, for a Human Trafficking and Technology seminar. We worked with the hospitality industry to offer life skills and employment training for human trafficking survivors, with federal agencies in the development of a stronger set of standard practices to ensure that agricultural goods imported into the United States are not made with slave labor, and with the United Nations and the private sector on groundbreaking guidelines for corporate social accountability and human trafficking. These are only some of the exciting public/private efforts that we undertook in 2010, and we look forward to even more innovative partnerships in the coming year.
The Department of State continues to battle human trafficking on all fronts -- prevention, protection, and prosecution. We thank you for your contributions to the movement and wish you much health, happiness and renewed commitment to the fight against modern slavery in the New Year.