According to current estimates, 21-36 million people are trafficked or enslaved each year, generating more than $150 billion in revenue for the criminals who perpetrate this grave human rights injustice. Although global attention to the issue is gradually increasing, greater devotion of resources is still needed. Since 2009, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) has placed a particular focus on this issue and has encouraged members to develop Commitments to Action to combat human trafficking. CGI members have mobilized to affect change across all aspects of the anti-trafficking space, including working to stem the supply of and demand for trafficked persons, reforming the justice system, rescuing trafficking victims, empowering survivors, and raising awareness among the general public.
As the global anti-trafficking sector matures, leaders are expanding their focus from urgent on-the-ground intervention work to the creation of shared tools and sustainable, forward-looking approaches to prevention. There is a greater interest in creating and sharing collaborative resources, best practices, and baseline data, along with a recognized need for community-level metrics and increased collaboration among actors in the space. Two CGI members, Polaris Project and Free the Slaves, have each made 2014 Commitments to Action that are examples of such collaborative and scalable approaches.
Creating a Coordinated Global Response to Human Trafficking
There are numerous NGOs, multilateral institutions, government stakeholders, and law enforcement agencies working to combat human trafficking. However, it is often challenging for these actors to identify and connect with one another across borders. This lack of information not only hampers communication, it also makes it difficult to understand the depth and breadth of the anti-trafficking movement and limits opportunities for learning, sharing best practices, collecting critical data, and providing essential services to survivors.
Through its 2014 commitment, Polaris Project is building the sector’s first comprehensive, centralized database of anti-trafficking and slavery organizations called the Global Modern Slavery Directory. According to Bradley Myles, chief executive officer of Polaris Project, “Human trafficking is a global crime and it’s absolutely critical the organizations and people working to combat it are connected to ensure a coordinated response. When victims are trafficked in one country, but need help in another, law enforcement and service providers must be able to identify the organizations that provide services on the ground. The Global Modern Slavery Directory is connecting these organizations and hotlines throughout the world so we can strengthen this global safety net.” This comprehensive database will also reveal gaps in services, making it possible for funders to invest strategically in order to achieve the greatest holistic impact.
PHOTO CREDIT: POLARIS PROJECT
Together with its partners, which include Freedom Fund and Walk Free, Polaris Project will expand the database to include more than 3,000 contacts and provide geographic coverage in over 148 countries by 2017. Myles explains, “Hundreds of organizations have joined the Directory since it was launched, and we’re working to ensure even more are added in the years to come.”
Developing a Shared Toolbox of Tested Anti-Trafficking Interventions
The anti-slavery movement is also inhibited by a lack of primary data on the magnitude and dynamics of slavery, especially at the local level where people are most vulnerable and programs can be most effective. This scarcity of information makes it very difficult to determine if slavery in a specific location is growing, diminishing, or remaining unchanged—and if the interventions being implemented to strengthen communities against vulnerability are proving effective in ending slavery.
Through its 2014 Commitment to Action—Pioneering Measurement of Slavery and Slavery Eradication—Free the Slaves will use its monitoring and evaluation expertise to develop shared tools that can be used by the entire anti-trafficking sector. These tools will measure on-the-ground changes in community behavior, assess the capacity of intervening organizations, determine a community’s collective resistance to slavery, track changes in public policy, and record progress of individual slavery survivors.
PHOTO CREDIT: FREE THE SLAVES
To obtain baseline research, Free the Slaves works closely with partner organizations in local communities. As Maurice Middleberg, executive director of Free the Slaves describes, “Our work is about understanding the conditions under which people are living, the risk factors that make them susceptible to becoming enslaved, and how knowledgeable they are about their rights—and then finding out if those things change over time as a result of our programs.”
Developed and tested over the next two years, this toolkit will ultimately lead to sector-wide improvements that protect an additional 60,000 people from the risk of slavery.
Bringing Increased Capacity and Resources to the Anti-Trafficking Movement
In order to capitalize on the influx of new attention to the anti-trafficking movement, leaders in this sector will need to have reliable data in place, a shared understanding of what interventions have proven most effective, and the ability to invest in strategies that reduce risk for the most vulnerable people. As the sector moves toward more information-sharing and forward-looking interventions, CGI will continue to provide a space for its members to collaborate and innovate, while engaging new actors and encouraging new partnerships that strengthen this work.