The U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons coordinates, both internationally and across the U.S. government, the United States’ fight against contemporary forms of slavery. The Department of State leads the U.S. global engagement on the phenomenon of human trafficking, partnering with foreign governments and international and civil society to develop and implement effective strategies for confronting modern slavery. The Office has responsibility for bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, targeted foreign assistance, and public engagement on trafficking in persons.
The Office was created by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000, which secured the guarantees of freedom from modern slavery and involuntary servitude set forth in the U.S. Constitution and a number of treaty obligations and updated the post-Civil War slavery statutes.
Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State and Ambassador-at- Large Luis CdeBaca directs the Department of State’s antitrafficking efforts in the Office of Democracy and Global Affairs, under the leadership of Under Secretary María Otero.
The Office pursues policies, partnerships, and practices that uphold the “3P” paradigm of protecting victims, preventing trafficking, and prosecuting traffickers. The Office is organized into three primary sections: Reports and Political Affairs; International Programs; and Public Engagement. The Office also has special teams focused on multilateral affairs and strategic planning and budget issues.
Reports and Political Affairs (RPA)
RPA’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 goals, and identify and examine recent trafficking trends. RPA encourages measurable progress in the fight against human trafficking that stems from national action plans and recommendations in the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. These recommendations are country-specific and therefore may require a range of activities including, but not limited to: legislation, increased enforcement, victim-centered policies and services, and relevant prevention activities.
The TIP Report is the U.S. government’s principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking. It is also the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human 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 lists countries on three tiers based on their governments’ efforts to comply with the “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” found in Section 108 of the TVPA.
In 2010, under the leadership of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the TIP Report ranked for the first time ever the United States’ anti-trafficking efforts.
Since 2001, the number of countries included and ranked has more than doubled to include 177 countries in the 2010 TIP Report. The countries on Tier 1 (meeting the minimum standards as defined in the TVPA) have increased from 12 to 30 and the number of countries on Tier 3, the lowest tier, has decreased from 23 to 13 as victim protections and modern laws begin to be enacted. The TIP Report has inspired legislation, national action plans, implementation of policies, and programs and protection mechanisms that complement prosecution efforts advancing a comprehensive global understanding of the issue.
Over the past 9 years, the International Programs section has supported more than 450 projects to combat modern slavery in 109 countries. These federal funds, awarded to international and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), are strategically placed to fuel greater progress based on the “3P” paradigm, including law enforcement training, comprehensive victim services, and raising public awareness.
International Programs funds efforts against modern slavery based on trends and needs outlined in the TIP Report. It provides on-the-ground assessments and assistance to funded projects with frequent site visits. The Office makes funding designations on an annual basis through a competitive grant process. In 2010, the Office received a record number of requests totaling over $300 million, far more than the Office’s $20 million budget.
The Office has also funded on-site evaluation assessments of selected projects. The emphasis is on evaluating the soundness of the project design, the potential replication of activities, the measurement of effectiveness, and the availability of data to evaluate program impact. These projects are intended to lead to impact evaluations as well as guide promising practices in program documentation.
In addition, through its NGO partners, International Programs supports foreign governments’ anti-trafficking efforts through targeted training and technical assistance in an effort to assist priority countries on Tier 2 Watch List and Tier 3 in meeting their goals. This assistance may take the form of law enforcement training, legislative drafting, and promising practices in victim services.
The Public Engagement section is the Office’s liaison to Congress, the media, NGOs, other U.S. government agencies, corporations, academia, research institutes, and the general public – all important partners in a comprehensive, multidisciplinary effort to combat trafficking.
Within government, Public Engagement works closely with Members of Congress to brief them on relevant trafficking issues. Public Engagement also supports Secretary Clinton in her role as Chair of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking (PITF). The PITF is a cabinet-level entity whose purpose is to provide vision and direction for government-wide anti-trafficking efforts. Through the Senior Policy Operating Group (SPOG), Ambassador CdeBaca and the Public Engagement team manage a diverse interagency portfolio. In 2010, the SPOG committees were convened: Public Affairs, Research and Data, and Grantmaking. The Public Engagement team also served on interagency teams involving: intelligence fusion through the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center; child sexual exploitation; gender development issues; and cleansing imported agricultural products of the taint of forced labor and child labor.
Public Engagement works to increase public awareness through targeted media outreach and public campaigns that include social networking and new media. Creating new partnerships and strengthening existing ones is vital to Public Engagement’s grassroots approach. NGOs (including faith-based organizations), law enforcement officials, and victim advocates are critical partners to identify and amplify promising practices. Academia and research institutes are at the forefront of ensuring that the anti-trafficking community is employing evidence-based approaches to human trafficking and challenging global assumptions about human trafficking.