Closing Note

Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

In this age of interconnected markets, mobile workforces, and digital communication, human traffickers are developing newer and more sophisticated ways to exploit their victims. Traffickers are particularly skilled at identifying and cultivating vulnerability in those they exploit, taking advantage of difficult circumstances and instability, and exploiting government policies and activities in unexpected ways. No matter how effective national policies are in fulfilling their intended goals, governments should continuously examine and test their policies to ensure they do not enable traffickers or otherwise contribute to human trafficking.

For example, governments around the world spend billions of dollars to procure goods and services. Unfortunately, procurement policies can be blind to conditions that workers in the supply chain face, including those that may be indicative of human trafficking, such as contract fraud, unpaid wages, and passport confiscation. Governments should assess their procurement frameworks; bring together procurement, human trafficking, and labor rights experts; and implement policies that protect workers on government contracts. Governments should also enact policies that clearly prohibit human trafficking by government contractors and subcontractors, and prohibit activities, including those in the recruitment process, known to contribute to the risk of human trafficking, such as charging workers recruitment fees that create vulnerabilities to debt bondage.

Similarly, many governments prohibit labor migration to countries that pose particular risks as a means to protect their citizens from exploitation. While well intended, such policies not only restrict freedom of movement, but may also drive some individuals to take risks to circumvent the policy. More effective alternatives to prohibiting labor migration to countries include educating citizens of their rights and the specific risks posed in such destination countries; working with governments in destination countries to address vulnerabilities to exploitation and conduct joint investigations of abuse; and providing overseas officials the mandate and tools required to serve and protect their citizens abroad.

Some governments’ pursuit of national security and regional stability may also indirectly enable human trafficking. At times, government support for and operational coordination with armed services and groups can unintentionally empower them to exploit people through forcible recruitment into armed groups, recruitment and use of children, or sexual exploitation. Governments that support militaries and armed groups should ensure they understand the full scope of such organizations’ activities and how they put government resources to action. Governments should encourage the public to report abuses, establish transparent processes by which to review accusations, and take appropriate action including to hold perpetrators accountable and ultimately to end support and coordination with such groups.

These are only a few examples of how some government policies, even if made with good intentions, can leave individuals more vulnerable and give traffickers an advantage. It is incumbent on governments to assess and adapt to the specific dynamics of human trafficking. In enacting new policies and reviewing existing ones, governments should strive to understand the inadvertent yet potentially harmful effects they may have on individuals vulnerable to trafficking.


Karen Vierling Allen
Julia F. Anderson
Rory E. Anderson
Andrea Balint
Shonnie R. Ball
Kyle M. Ballard
Michelle C. Bloom
Carla M. Bury
Mark Carlson
Cathleen Chang
Alisha D. Deluty
Julia (Wei) Deng
Leigh Anne DeWine
Stephen D. Dreyer
John D. Elliott
Mary C. Ellison
Charlotte Florance
Mark Forstrom
Anna Patrick Fraser
Connor Gary
Christy Gillmore
Adam Guarneri
Patrick Hamilton
Tegan Hare
Amy Rustan Haslett
Caitlin B. Heidenreich
Sonia Helmy-Dentzel
Greg Hermsmeyer
Julie Hicks
Torrie Higgins
Megan Hjelle-
Jennifer M. Ho
Renee Huffman
Veronica Jablonski
Harold Jahnsen
Maurice W. Johnson
Tyler Johnston
Kari A. Johnstone
Channing M. Jones
Nayab Khan
Emily A. Korenak
Kendra L. Kreider
Renee Lariviere
Abigail Long
Drew Lucas
Joel Maybury
Kerry McBride
Rendi McCoy
Maura K. McManus
Ericka Moten
Ryan Mulvenna
Samantha Novick
Amy O’Neill Richard
Sandy Perez Rousseau
Andrew Pfender
Justin D. Pollard
Laura Svat Rundlet
Chad C. Salitan
Haley L. Sands
Sarah A. Scott
Mai Shiozaki-Lynch
Julie Short Echalar
Adrienne Sgarlato
Jane Nady Sigmon
Soumya Silver
Ann Karl Slusarz
Justine Sobrio
Whitney Stewart
Desirée Suo Weymont
Francesca J. Tadle
Atsuki Takahashi
Anne Vasquez
Melissa Verlaque
Kathleen Vogel
Myrna E. Walch
Shelly Westebbe
Katie Wiese
Andrea E. Wilson
Ben Wiselogle
Kaitlyn Woods
Janet Zinn

Special thanks to Lamya Shawki El-Shacke and the graphic services team at Global Publishing Solutions.