If the 2010 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report marked anniversaries and reflected on progress made, the 2011 TIP Report introduces a new era of truly comprehensive approaches to combating human trafficking. In the past decade, the community of nations has moved away from reflexive denial that this crime still exists and has adopted instead a wide range of policies and partnerships. This shift has been driven in no small part by the impact of the annual TIP Reports, the rapid acceptance of the United Nations’ Palermo Protocol, and the insistence of civil society that this crime not be ignored.
Governments now acknowledge the modern methods used to compel service and the impact on its victims. There is broad consensus on the appropriate response; 142 countries have ratified the Palermo Protocol, and 128 countries have enacted laws prohibiting all forms of human trafficking. Each year sees advances in prosecutions, victim identification, and protection and prevention measures. And unlike a decade ago, the language of abolition has reached the upper echelons of government. The fact that a form of slavery still exists in the modern era and that it must be confronted is now spoken of by heads of state and CEOs, at shareholder meetings, in church groups, and around the blogosphere.
And yet modern slavery continues to be a reality for millions of people, rather than for an isolated few. And the only solution to it is for governments to step up. The responsibility of governments to prosecute traffickers and provide justice to trafficking victims cannot be outsourced to NGOs, and victim protection should not be. The systemic and structural steps needed to prevent human trafficking must reflect a cultural change that rejects modern slavery, addresses the demand that fuels this crime, and requires personal responsibility. But the foundations of such efforts must be found in government action.
This year’s TIP Report focuses on how governments can move toward a more targeted, purposeful approach that fully addresses the minimum standards to fight trafficking in persons. It also addresses governmental systems and policies that contribute to human trafficking. For a maturing modern approach, it is fitting to move beyond mere adoption of laws. Rather, we must measure our success or failure by victims served, by traffickers punished, and by abuse averted. It is time to treat the “3P” paradigm as not just a rhetorical device: prosecution alone will not rid the world of this misery but must be fully complemented by protection and prevention. Every country — on every tier — can and must do more.
Just as we acknowledge the last 10 years as a decade of development, let us embrace the next 10 years as a decade of delivery.
Ambassador Luis CdeBaca