The Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons leads the United States' global engagement against human trafficking, an umbrella term used to describe the activities involved when someone obtains or holds a person in compelled service. The Office is headed by Principal Deputy Director Kari Johnstone, serving provisionally as Acting Director.
The Office was established in accordance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000. The TVPA updated the post-Civil War slavery statutes, furthering the guarantees of freedom from slavery and involuntary servitude set forth in the U.S. Constitution and articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Office pursues policies, partnerships, and practices that uphold the “3P” paradigm of prosecuting traffickers, protecting victims, and preventing trafficking. The Office is organized into four sections: Reports and Political Affairs, International Programs, Public Engagement, and Resource Management and Planning.
The Reports and Political Affairs (RPA) section’s primary role is to engage foreign governments regarding human trafficking issues. The Office and U.S. missions worldwide meet regularly with foreign government officials to advance the “3P” approach, gauge progress in achieving anti-trafficking goals, and identify and examine recent trafficking trends. The RPA section encourages measurable progress through national action plans and recommendations in the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, to support the fight against human trafficking These recommendations are consistent with anti-trafficking standards set out in the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol). They are country-specific and may prescribe a range of activities, including, but not limited to, enacting anti-trafficking legislation, increasing law enforcement efforts, implementing victim-centered protection policies and services, and undertaking relevant prevention activities. As governments develop legal frameworks, the TIP Report is increasingly focused on actual implementation of laws, including criminal prosecution of traffickers and effective protection of victims.
The TIP Report is the U.S. government’s principal diplomatic and diagnostic tool to guide relations with foreign governments on human trafficking. It is also the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-trafficking efforts, and reflects the U.S. government’s commitment to global leadership on this key human rights and law enforcement issue.
Through the TIP Report, the Department of State assesses countries based on their governments’ efforts to comply with the “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” found in Section 108 of the TVPA. Since 2010, the TIP Report has also ranked the United States government’s anti-trafficking efforts, using the same TVPA minimum standards.
Since 2001, the number of countries included and ranked in the TIP Report has more than doubled, and included 188 countries and territories in 2014. Globally, the Report has prompted legislation, national action plans, implementation of policies, and programs and protection mechanisms that complement prosecution efforts, thereby advancing a comprehensive international understanding of the issue.
With more than $216 million in foreign assistance funding since 2002, the Office’s International Programs (IP) section has supported more than 835 projects to combat human trafficking around the world. These federal funds, awarded to international and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), are strategically placed to fuel greater progress based on the “3P” paradigm, and include support for law enforcement training, comprehensive victim services, and raising public awareness.
The IP section funds efforts against modern slavery based on the trends and needs identified in the TIP Report. The team conducts on-the-ground monitoring of projects, seeks to identify promising practices, and provides technical assistance to grantees. In line with its strategic planning process, the Office makes funding designations on an annual basis through a grant process.
The Office has funded on-site evaluations of selected projects, which assess project performance, the potential for replication of activities, and measurements of effectiveness.
In addition, through its international organization and NGO partners, the IP section supports the anti-trafficking efforts of foreign governments through targeted training and technical assistance in an effort to assist countries in meeting their anti-trafficking goals. These short-term programs may take the form of multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary training; legislative revisions and drafting assistance; and strengthening victim protection, including referral mechanisms and services.
The Office’s Public Engagement (PE) section works with Congress, the media, NGOs, other U.S. government agencies, multilateral organizations, corporations, academia, research institutes, and civil society to raise awareness about modern slavery and the U.S. government’s anti-trafficking efforts and to build partnerships to help strengthen those efforts.
The PE section supports Secretary Kerry in his role as Chair of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF), a cabinet-level entity, created by the TVPA, which consists of 14 departments and agencies across the federal government to coordinate U.S. government-wide efforts to combat trafficking in persons. Agencies of the PITF have brought together leaders from government, the private sector, advocates and survivors, faith leaders, law enforcement and academia, and have made significant progress to strengthen federal efforts to combat human trafficking.
The PE section serves as the Office’s liaison to Capitol Hill, ensuring that members of Congress and their staffs are aware of the Department’s actions to combat trafficking. In addition, the section manages the Office’s media outreach and public campaigns with the goal of raising awareness of modern slavery. The PE section also handles outreach to the NGO community and civil society, the faith-based community, law enforcement, and victim advocates to share best practices and disseminate information.
Within the PE section, the Multilateral Affairs team serves as the Office’s focal point on all matters related to the United Nations, the International Labor Organization, the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Organization of American States, and the Regional Conference on Migration. The team works with other member states to ensure that new resolutions and initiatives move beyond hortatory language to concrete outcomes to address human trafficking. Universal ratification and full implementation of the Palermo Protocol, and the promotion of a victim-centered approach to preventing and combating all forms of human trafficking, are the centerpieces of anti-trafficking efforts in multilateral venues.
The Resource Management and Planning (RMP) section provides management support to the Office to include strategic planning, performance management, evaluation oversight, budget formulation and execution for foreign assistance and state operations resources, human resource liaison services, general services, travel, and contract support. RMP ensures that the Front Office and staff receive the support needed to effectively carry out the mission of the Office.