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Women walking through rice terraces. (Pixabay; 2016)

The U.S. Department of State leads the United States’ global engagement to combat human trafficking and supports the coordination of anti-trafficking efforts across the U.S. government. Within the Department of State, and under the direction of Ambassador John Cotton Richmond, the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office) partners with foreign governments, international organizations, other federal agencies, civil society, the private sector, and survivors of human trafficking to develop and implement effective strategies to confront modern slavery. The TIP Office is responsible for bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, targeted foreign assistance, and public engagement on trafficking in persons.

The TIP Office was established in accordance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000. The TIP Office upholds the “3P” paradigm of prosecuting trafficking cases, protecting victims, and preventing trafficking, consistent with the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Protocol). The TIP Office is organized into four sections: Reports and Political Affairs, International Programs, Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, and Resource Management and Planning.

Reports and Political Affairs

The Reports and Political Affairs (RPA) section’s primary role is to work with U.S. embassies to engage foreign governments regarding human trafficking issues and to prepare the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. The TIP Office and U.S. missions worldwide meet regularly with foreign government officials to discuss ways to combat trafficking in persons and encourage measurable progress through national action plans and recommendations in the TIP Report. These recommendations are consistent with anti-trafficking standards set out in the Palermo Protocol. They are country-specific and prescribe a range of activities, such as enacting or amending anti-trafficking legislation, increasing law enforcement efforts, implementing victim-centered protection policies and services, and undertaking relevant prevention activities.

The TIP Report is the U.S. government’s principal diplomatic and diagnostic tool to guide engagement with foreign governments on human trafficking. It is also the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-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 meet the “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” found in Section 108 of the TVPA. Since 2010, the TIP Report has also ranked the United States government’s anti-trafficking efforts using the same minimum standards. Since 2001, the number of countries included and ranked in the TIP Report has more than doubled to 187 countries and territories. Globally, the TIP Report has prompted legislation, national action plans, and implementation of anti-trafficking policies and programs across the 3Ps.

International Programs

Since 2001, the International Programs (IP) section has leveraged more than $300 million in foreign assistance funding to support more than 960 anti-trafficking projects to address both sex and labor trafficking worldwide.  The TIP Office prioritizes its programming according to trends and recommendations identified in the TIP Report and in alignment with the 3Ps.

The IP section develops annual programming strategies, including a competitive award application process, monitors current projects, and provides technical assistance to award recipients, which include U.S. and foreign based nongovernmental organizations, international organizations, institutions of higher education, and private sector organizations.  The IP section collaborates on anti-trafficking programs with other Department of State and interagency counterparts and builds partnerships with other bilateral and private donors to enhance coordination.

Funds provided under foreign assistance awards are subject to Section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, a provision titled “Limitation on Assistance to Security Forces” (the “Leahy Amendment”). Subsection (a) of that provision states: “(a) In General.—No assistance shall be furnished under this Act [the Foreign Assistance Act] or the Arms Export Control Act to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violations of human rights.” Accordingly, none of the funds provided by the TIP Office may be used to provide training or other assistance to any unit or member of the security forces of a foreign country if the Department of State has credible information that such unit or individual has committed a gross violation of human rights. The Department of State implements the Leahy Amendment requirement by vetting units or individuals proposed for training or other assistance to check for credible information of a gross violation of human rights by such units or individuals. To facilitate Department of State vetting, all award recipients are encouraged to watch the Leahy Tutorial video for TIP Office grantees.

TIP Office programming is organized as follows:

  • Bilateral and Regional:  Multi-year bilateral and regional projects that promote anti-trafficking prosecution, protection, prevention, and partnership objectives in specific countries or regions.
  • Training and Technical Assistance:  Short-term training and technical assistance activities to increase government and civil society capacities to combat trafficking, and deployable technical assistance to help government agencies address immediate needs.
  • Emergency Victim Assistance:  Rapid assistance for victims of trafficking overseas on an emergency, case-by-case basis.
  • Research, Innovation, and Global Priorities:  Multi-year projects that address unmet research needs, explore innovative approaches to combating human trafficking, and address other anti-trafficking priorities on a global basis.
  • Child Protection Compact Partnerships:  Multi-year programs supporting negotiated bilateral partnerships with other governments to bolster partner country efforts to combat child trafficking.
  • Program to End Modern Slavery:  Multi-year program supporting transformational projects to reduce the prevalence of modern slavery in specific countries or regions.

Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs

The Office’s Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs (PEIA) section works with Congress, the media, NGOs, other U.S. government agencies, multilateral organizations, corporations, academia, research institutions, and survivors to raise awareness about modern slavery and the U.S. government’s anti-trafficking efforts, and to build partnerships to help strengthen those efforts. The section supports the Secretary of State in his role as Chair of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF), a Cabinet-level entity created by the TVPA to coordinate U.S. government-wide efforts to combat human trafficking, and also supports the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. The Council is comprised of survivors of human trafficking and charged with making recommendations to the PITF on federal anti-trafficking policies. The PEIA section also supports the TIP Office’s engagement with Capitol Hill, ensuring that Members of Congress and their staff are aware of the Department of State’s actions to combat trafficking. In addition, the PEIA section manages the TIP Office’s media outreach and public campaigns with the goal of raising awareness of modern slavery and prompting action to fight it.

Within the PEIA section, the Multilateral Affairs team serves as the TIP Office’s focal point on all matters related to the United Nations; the International Labor Organization; the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime; the Organization of American States; and other multilateral entities.

Resource Management and Planning

The Resource Management and Planning (RMP) section provides management support to the TIP Office, including strategic planning, performance management, evaluation oversight, budget formulation and execution for foreign assistance and state operations resources, human resource liaison services, general services, travel assistance, and contract support.

U.S. Department of State

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