Breaking the Bonds of Modern Slavery and Restoring Human Dignity Across the Globe

Posted by Kari Johnstone
July 30, 2015
A bonded child laborer rests his head in his hands after being rescued during a raid at a garment factory

This week, Secretary of State John F. Kerry released the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, the State Department’s key diplomatic tool in the fight to end modern slavery, which assesses the anti-trafficking efforts of 188 countries and territories, including the United States.  In addition to the country-specific narratives and recommendations that serve as the cornerstone of the Report, this year’s TIP Report also highlights emerging and troubling trends.  For example, the use of modern slavery as a tactic in armed conflicts, as documented in the Report, is particularly alarming in the Iraq and Syria conflicts where women and children are targeted and enslaved by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.  In Latin America, Africa, and the United States, the link between extractive industries and sex trafficking is of increasing concern as reports indicate women and children are subjected to sex trafficking in areas where these mining operations prosper.  News reports in recent months highlight the continued vulnerability to human trafficking of fishermen and migrants, including those who leave their homes in search of better opportunities or to flee persecution.

While numerous challenges remain, we also celebrate significant achievements of the past year. These include: a historic gathering of religious leaders representing Anglican, Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu, Jewish, Orthodox, and Islamic faiths to sign a declaration against modern slavery; the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ receipt of the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons; and the tireless efforts of governments and individuals around the globe, including the 2015 TIP Report Heroes, to combat human trafficking. 

The theme of this year’s Report focuses on preventing human trafficking in global supply chains.  It highlights the risks so many individuals, especially migrants, face while seeking a better life through better jobs, often far from home.  It highlights the methods traffickers use to further compound vulnerabilities in the recruitment process.  Finally, it highlights the critical role governments and businesses play in preventing human trafficking in the global marketplace, including the need for increased transparency in often long and complex supply chains.  According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), forced labor in the private economy reaps some $150 billion in illicit profits each year. 

Many of the practices that can lead to human trafficking in a supply chain often occur in the recruitment process before workers even start their jobs.  To further understand how methods such as debt manipulation, contract fraud, and recruitment fees can exploit workers, the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office) funded UNODC and the ILO to conduct coordinated global research on abusive recruitment practices known to facilitate human trafficking and identify emerging responses to protect individuals from such abuses.  On June 29, 2015, both organizations jointly released their reports with key findings and recommendations, including a call for action of governments, social partners, businesses, organizations and other stakeholders to improve recruitment practices worldwide. 

We have a lot of work ahead of us.  We know that no nation can end modern slavery alone.  This year marks the 15th anniversary of the UN Palermo Protocol -– and as of today -- 167 countries have become States parties to it.  As more and more countries stand up for freedom, the anti-trafficking movement grows stronger.  Individuals also can make a difference.  Each of us plays a part in this highly complex and interconnected world -- not only through our advocacy, but also through our purchasing power to demand goods and services free of forced labor at every stage of the process.  I implore you to join us to help break the bonds of modern slavery and restore human dignity across the globe.  

About the Author: Kari Johnstone is the Acting Director of the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

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Patrick W.
Maryland, USA
July 31, 2015
This global epidemic can be stop if we break the chain of a vents that leads to "Trafficking in Persons". So, I guess you start at the point where the people enter the system ? If they never enter the chain there would not be one. You can't work your way backwards, by that time it's to late for many of them. Focus on one point in the chain of events instead of spreading out your resources. It's like a war, if you break the chain that supplies your enemies at one point, it will fall apart at the end..
Karen H.
Oregon, USA
July 31, 2015
The root cause of slavery is that the individual believes he or she has nowhere to go. The solution is the plan for the international government that is being proposed and debated, which will guarantee the rights of the individual. Under the plan, one right the individual has is to be able to leave the nation if he or she believes he is being oppressed. Because a nation's power is based on population, oppressive governments will lose power on the international level. The one thing every person on the planet wants is to be able to create his or her life, but there is no schools or institutions at this time that teach that. Our organization is introducing the concept that all the seven major religions of the world teach one segment of the body of knowledge that is necessary to understand to create the life you want, and by bringing them together in one place, everyone can function on a higher level. In the same building, offices of the international government will work with the people to see they are allowed to leave that nation. Slavery and human trafficking will become a thing of the past at that point.


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