Human trafficking, or modern slavery, happens everywhere. No country is immune to it, and today, more than 20 million men, women and children are enslaved worldwide.
Every year, the United States Department of State issues its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which evaluates the efforts of 188 countries and territories, including the United States, to fight modern slavery.
They are not compared to other countries. Instead, they are evaluated based on their own efforts to comply with minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking set forth in U.S. law. These standards are closely linked to the international agreement called the UN Palermo Protocol, which establishes an international framework to address human trafficking.
Those countries with governments that fully comply with the standards fall into Tier 1. Countries that do not comply, but are making significant efforts to do so are on Tier 2.
The Tier 2 Watch List includes countries that do not comply with the minimum standards and are making significant efforts, but failed to increase such efforts compared to the previous year; have a number of trafficking victims that is significant or significantly increasing; or who make commitments to take additional steps over the ensuing year to better address human trafficking.
Finally, countries on Tier 3 do not comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.
According to the report, in 2014, 18 countries moved up in the tier rankings while the same number dropped in the tier rankings. 31 countries are in Tier 1; 89 countries in Tier 2; the Tier 2 Watch List contained 44 countries; and 23 countries comprised Tier 3.
The TIP Report is a valuable diplomatic tool because it “help[s] hold governments accountable for taking real steps to end the scourge of modern slavery,” said Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall. “Not only do foreign governments look to its recommendations on how to improve, civil society relies on these pages to guide their efforts as well. The U.S. Government anti-trafficking policy and strategy similarly stem from this report, as do the efforts of many international organizations,” said Under Secretary Sewall.
“The purpose of this document is not to scold and it’s not to name and shame. It is to enlighten and to energize, and most importantly, to empower people,” said Secretary of State John Kerry at the Report’s July 27th launch ceremony.
Indeed, it is a call to action.