A Closing Note

Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

“The continued existence of forced labor is bad for business, bad for development, and bad for its victims. It is a practice that has no place in modern society and should be eradicated as soon as possible.”

— International Labour Organization, Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labor (2014)

Over the past fourteen years, the TIP Report has documented how people from all parts of the world are victims of sex trafficking and forced labor in nearly every sector of the economy. While such abuses may seem far away, they are—in reality—very much a part of our daily lives. Many of our fruits and vegetables, clothes, electronics, and other consumer goods are products of supply chains in which exploitation is used to gain a competitive advantage in the cost of production. Intermediaries profit from recruitment fees paid to secure employment, and employers profit from a market in which labor costs are kept artificially low. In May 2014, the International Labour Organization released a groundbreaking report estimating that victims of this crime generate a staggering $150 billion in profits per year for the private global economy: $99 billion in the sex industry and $51 billion in other sectors. Despite improvements made by many governments to address human trafficking, these crimes remain low risk/high profit ventures. Countries must do more to close off these zones of impunity.

Recent years have seen increased concern about the stewardship of natural resources, the ethical treatment of animals, and ensuring that farmers receive fair prices. As a result, certifications and labels now exist to inform consumers whether seafood is sustainably caught, livestock is pasture-fed, chickens are free range, coffee beans are “fair trade,” or diamonds are conflict-free. These “seals-of-approval” have fostered increased transparency and driven consumers to reward companies that engage in good corporate citizenship. Few current certification systems adequately verify the absence of forced labor in the supply chains of the products we eat, drink, or use on a daily basis.

To break the cycle of human trafficking that forms the base of many products and goods, we must identify the critical points of supply chains where patterns of and vulnerability to forced labor exist and address the socio-economic foundations of the poverty that ensnare so many into exploitative situations. Real change will continue to require leaders throughout society—community workers and activists, faith groups and organized labor, government officials and industry leaders—to encourage producers to monitor supply chains and buy and sell goods and services that are free of forced labor. Consumers must speak with both their voices and wallets, insisting on mechanisms of accountability, transparency, and recognition for the products they purchase.

In the coming year, our office will continue to build our knowledge of the intricacies of global supply chains and expand our collaboration with other governments, the corporate sector, and civil society to address human trafficking. We look forward to joining forces with partners in these sectors as we continue to proclaim freedom, seek justice for, and empower trafficking survivors around the world.

The Staff of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons is:

Maria Alejandra Acevedo
Sheela Ahluwalia
Feleke Assefa
Andrea Balint
Shonnie R. Ball
Clara Boykin
Marjorie Bryant
Carla M. Bury
Ann Touneh Dandridge
Luis CdeBaca
Alma Chapa
Patrice W. Davis
Sonia Helmy-Dentzel
Jennifer Donnelly
Michael Duffin
Dana Dyson
Elizabeth Early
Mary C. Ellison
Marisa Ferri
Mark Forstrom
Alison Kiehl Friedman
Sara E. Gilmer
Caitlin Heidenreich
Julie Hicks
Jennifer Koun Hong
Stephanie R. Hurter
Hilary R. Johnson
Maurice W. Johnson
Ann Karl Slusarz
Nan Kennelly
Kendra L. Kreider
Abraham Lee
Chelsea Lord
Martha Lovejoy
Kerry McBride
Ericka V. Moten
Tim Mulvey
Elizabeth Norris
Steven L. Ovard
Sara Paredes
April Parker
Anna Patrick
Rachel Yousey Raba
Amy O’Neill Richard
Amy Rofman
Laura Svat Rundlet
Amy Rustan
Chad C. Salitan
Joseph Scovitch
Mai Shiozaki-Lynch
Jane Nady Sigmon
Soumya Silver
Cindy J. Smith
Sarah E. Stula
Desirée M. Suo
Amber Thomas
Ian A. Tucker
Kristin Wells
Andrea E. Wilson
Zach Winters
Sharon M. Wolner
Janet Zinn

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