Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons: An Overview

Fact Sheet
June 27, 2011


The U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons coordinates the United States’ fight against human trafficking both internationally and across the U.S. government. The Office is led by the Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Luis CdeBaca. The Department of State leads the U.S. global engagement on human trafficking, partnering with foreign governments and international and civil society to develop and implement effective strategies for confronting modern slavery. The Office has responsibility for bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, targeted foreign assistance, and public engagement on trafficking in persons.

The Office was established in accordance with a mandate of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000. The TVPA updated the post-Civil War slavery statutes, furthering the guarantees of freedom from slavery and involuntary servitude set forth in the U.S. Constitution and articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Office pursues policies, partnerships, and practices that uphold the “3P” paradigm of protecting victims, preventing trafficking, and prosecuting traffickers. The Office is organized into three primary sections: Reports and Political Affairs; International Programs; and Public Engagement. The Office also has special teams focused on multilateral affairs and strategic planning and budget issues.

Reports and Political Affairs (RPA)

RPA’s primary role is to engage foreign governments regarding human trafficking issues. The Office and U.S. missions worldwide meet regularly with foreign government officials to advance the “3P” approach, gauge progress in achieving goals, and identify and examine recent trafficking trends. RPA encourages measurable progress in the fight against human trafficking that stems from national action plans and recommendations in the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. These recommendations are consistent with anti-trafficking standards set out in the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol). They are country-specific and may require a range of activities including, but not limited to, enacting anti-trafficking legislation, increasing law enforcement efforts, implementing victim-centered protection policies and services, and undertaking relevant prevention activities. As governments develop legal frameworks, the TIP Report is increasingly focused on actual implementation of laws, including criminal prosecution of traffickers and effective protection of victims.

The TIP Report is the U.S. government’s principal diplomatic and diagnostic tool to guide our relations with foreign governments on human trafficking. It is also the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human trafficking efforts and reflects the U.S. government’s commitment to global leadership on this key human rights and law enforcement issue.

Through the TIP Report, the Department of State assesses countries based on their governments’ efforts to comply with the “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” found in Section 108 of the TVPA.

In 2010, the TIP Report for the first time ever ranked the United States government’s anti-trafficking efforts.

Since 2001, the number of countries included and ranked has more than doubled and now includes 184 countries and territories in the 2011 TIP Report. The Report, while at times controversial, has inspired legislation, national action plans, implementation of policies, and programs and protection mechanisms that complement prosecution efforts, thereby advancing a comprehensive global understanding of the issue.

International Programs

Over the past 10 years, the International Programs section has supported more than 450 projects to combat modern slavery in 109 countries. These federal funds, awarded to international and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), are strategically placed to fuel greater progress based on the “3P” paradigm, including law enforcement training, comprehensive victim services, and raising public awareness.

International Programs funds efforts against modern slavery based on trends and needs outlined in the TIP Report. It provides on-the-ground assessments and assistance to funded projects with frequent site visits. The Office makes funding designations on an annual basis through a competitive grant process.

The Office has also funded on-site evaluation assessments of selected projects, which emphasize the soundness of the project design, the potential replication of activities, the measurement of effectiveness, and the availability of data to evaluate program impact. These projects are intended to lead to impact evaluations as well as guide promising practices in program documentation.

In addition, through its NGO partners, International Programs supports foreign governments’ anti-trafficking efforts through targeted training and technical assistance in an effort to assist priority countries on Tier 2 Watch List and Tier 3 in meeting their goals. This assistance may take the form of law enforcement training, legislative drafting, and promising practices in victim services.

Public Engagement

The Office’s Public Engagement team works with Congress, the media, NGOs, other U.S. government agencies, corporations, academia, research institutes, and the public to raise awareness about modern slavery and the U.S. government’s anti-trafficking efforts, and to build partnerships to help strengthen those efforts. There is a growing social movement in the United States, as well as globally, to combat human trafficking.

Public Engagement serves as the Office’s liaison to Capitol Hill, ensuring that members of Congress and their staffs are aware of the Department’s actions to combat trafficking. Public Engagement supports Secretary Clinton in her role as Chair of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF), a cabinet-level body charged to provide vision and direction for government-wide anti-trafficking efforts.

In addition, Public Engagement manages the Office’s media outreach and public campaigns with the goal of raising awareness of modern slavery issues generally, as well as publicizing the Department’s and the Office’s work to combat trafficking in persons. The team handles outreach to the NGO community and civil society, the faith-based community, law enforcement, and victim advocates to share best practices and disseminate information. Through these efforts, the Public Engagement team seeks to convene a wide range of concerned parties to foster new ideas and share best practices in the struggle to combat this crime.

Multilateral Affairs

The Multilateral Affairs team serves as the Office’s focal point on all matters related to the United Nations (UN), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Regional Conference on Migration. The team works with other member states to ensure that new resolutions or initiatives move beyond hortatory language to concrete outcomes to address human trafficking. Universal ratification and full implementation of the Palermo Protocol and the promotion of a victim-centered approach to preventing and combating all forms of human trafficking are the centerpieces of efforts in multilateral venues. The Multilateral Affairs team was heavily involved in the development of an ILO Domestic Worker Convention, the UN’s Global Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons and the OAS’ Work Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons in the Western Hemisphere 2010-2012.