Greetings from Washington. I am pleased to join you in your efforts to fight modern-day slavery. Trafficking is a global challenge that undermines human potential, stymies progress, and contributes to instability.
The Obama Administration is committed to addressing this challenge. Our Trafficking in Persons Report provides accurate and detailed information about trafficking and anti-slavery efforts around the world.
Many of us have seen the graphic human toll of trafficking. I have vivid memories of the young girls I met in Thailand in 1996 who had been sold by their families into prostitution, who had contracted HIV and were dying of AIDS. And I will never forget my conversations with women elsewhere lured by promises of economic opportunity who became enslaved by trafficking cartels and criminals. These examples have been all too common, not just in Asia, but around the world.
As we prepare to mark the tenth anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the United Nations Protocol, which firmly defined this issue, we can be encouraged that we’re making progress. Since 2000, over half the world’s governments have enacted laws criminalizing all forms of trafficking. Awareness of this challenge is at an all-time high, yet there is still so much more to do.
So in the days, weeks, and months ahead, we must bring this issue into the mainstream beyond the periphery of diplomacy. I’m committed to integrating it with crosscutting implications spanning security, trade, labor, agriculture, health, and human rights.
Thank you for your service and commitment to ending this global scourge. With your continued commitment, expertise, and hard work, I am confident we will make progress together. Thank you all very much.