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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Conference for Potential Bidders

Luis CdeBaca
Ambassador-at-Large, Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Dean Acheson Auditorium
Washington, DC
November 5, 2009


Remarks as prepared

Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to welcome you to our third annual bidders’ conference. Before Jane and her staff review with you this year’s solicitation, I wanted to take this opportunity first to thank all of you for the important work you are doing around the world to fight modern-day slavery. You, and groups like yours, have been at the heart of the anti-trafficking movement for more than a decade.

It’s encouraging to see so many familiar faces, and better yet, so many new faces in this room. It’s evidence of how much we’ve grown, and how this issue has captivated more and more people to actively stand up to meet the global challenge of human trafficking. More than 100 organizations confirmed for today’s conference, our largest to date by far.

As we look forward to the next decade and beyond, I want to take this time to share with you broadly some of our policy priorities and objectives which have direct bearing on our international anti-trafficking funding and programming. Since the signing of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000 by President Clinton, and over the past eight years under the Bush Administration, we have accomplished much using our three “P” paradigm of prevention, prosecution, and protection as a guide.

Around the world, new partnerships between police and NGOs have resulted in the prosecution of thousands of trafficking cases, and a new focus on victims’ rights has resulted in assistance for many thousands of victims. A majority of the world’s countries now have criminal legislation prohibiting all forms of trafficking in persons, and global awareness has been immeasurably raised.

But there is still much to do. We need to do more particularly in identifying and addressing the root causes of trafficking. This includes reforming practices that contribute to the trafficking of vulnerable populations. Whether it is young girls denied schooling, ethnic minorities denied citizenship, and migrant workers denied basic protections under the law. Our success in the coming years will be measured by our ability to identify these causal factors and encourage governments to implement relevant reforms. It also includes the need for government leaders to begin to address not only the structures that enable slavery to persist—but to actively build new structures to combat it. That means prosecutions and victim services to be sure, but also a more holistic approach to ensure tax, trade, immigration, and agricultural policies are not contributing to the problem.

As Ambassador, one of my goals is to ensure that every country has the laws and systems in place to stem the tide of slavery. And that they incorporate the issue of slavery into all of their policy decisions. It’s not just a women’s issue, or a children’s issue, or even a human rights issue that can be dusted off from time to time. It is an issue that touches virtually every aspect of society. Human trafficking is a multi-dimensional threat. The destructive effects are far-reaching and impact all of us. To not make necessary changes is a threat to the stability and prosperity of every nation, as modern slavery fuels violence, threatens public health and safety, and undermines the rule of law.

As part of our comprehensive effort to tackle this problem in all its facets, Secretary Clinton announced at the release of this year’s TIP Report a fourth “P” in our anti-trafficking strategy: partnership. This includes partnership between governments; between law enforcement and NGOs; between federal, state, and local agencies; and between the public and private sectors. It also means partnership between government and civil society.

This is where many of you come in. Our office is looking for innovative partnerships to enhance our core competencies because we recognize that government can’t do it alone. These partnerships include working with NGOs and international organizations. But it also means engaging lawyers, medical professionals, researchers, and corporations. We are committed to working with you to build sustainable programs. Because together we can help people escape and recover. Together we can attack the root causes of this crime to prevent the enslavement from happening in the first place. 

Since FY2001, the USG has committed over $600 million in international anti-trafficking funds. I am proud to say that the United States is currently funding 190 anti-TIP programs in nearly 70 countries. And I am impressed by what our limited amount of funding has been able to accomplish. The programs I am about to mention in particular give us reason for hope and optimism that we can make a difference in punishing traffickers, providing proper treatment and care to victims, and pushing governments to enact proper laws and policies that prevent exploitation and abuse.

In Nepal, the American Bar Association (ABA) is working to enhance the government’s ability to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases. This is done by building the capacity of the key actors in the country. This includes the Nepal Police Force, Women and Children Service Center, and the Human Rights Commission. They are also working on training of judges through the judicial academy, and at the grassroots level through the Kathmandu law school.

In Burundi and the DRC, the Heartland Alliance is providing critical services for the rehabilitation, recovery, and reintegration of sex trafficking victims, including women and children trafficked in armed conflicts. The services include counseling, psychosocial support, and vocational training.

It’s worth mentioning that the Heartland Alliance will also be establishing the first NGO-run TIP shelter in Iraq. Their work, and the work of many who assist trafficking victims, is what enables victims to become survivors. And it is the strength I see in these survivors that motivates me to work on this issue.

Taken together these programs are just a few examples of how we can target our assistance to produce results that make a real difference in the trafficking problem around the world.

In closing, much remains to be done in this fight. There are still countless victims we haven’t reached. Together we have to face the unfinished work of ending slavery in our time. Each of you is an important partner in this work. It is imperative that we build on our common interests of justice and human dignity to attack this phenomenon in partnership. I look forward to hearing from many of you in the coming month.

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