Modern-day slavery is one of the greatest human rights atrocities of our time. The scale and cruelty of this crime is truly unimaginable with an estimated 21 million people held in bondage through human trafficking every year. Every 30 seconds another person becomes a victim of human trafficking.
Members of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships presented him with our report of recommendations on how together we can scale our partnerships to counter modern-day slavery.
This Council gathered in July 2012, as leaders from diverse religious and non-profit backgrounds, to examine how we could collectively address the issue of human trafficking. We began this work then as strangers with little knowledge or in-depth understanding of the nature of human trafficking. We had little idea of how it was touching our own congregants and our own communities.
Through our study and research on this issue, we quickly became impassioned by the scope and scale of human trafficking around the world, particularly right here in the United States. We had the opportunity to meet with and learn from amazing modern-day abolitionists, and survivors of trafficking, working to combat human trafficking both within and outside of government.
Our recommendations focus on key areas in how we believe the Obama Administration can work with the religious and non-profit organizations we represent to counter the scourge of modern-day slavery:
- First, we recommend that the White House and President Obama lead the effort to elevate and bring to scale the fight against modern-day slavery at home and abroad. We encourage the Administration to commission a comprehensive study to better understand exactly what resources, services and programs are required to scale this work to meet the need. Along the same lines, we also propose that the Administration convene private philanthropy, business, other governments and global civil society to discuss ways to dramatically increase the resources committed to fight against modern-day slavery.
- Our second key recommendation is that the White House and U.S. Government lead the effort to eliminate slave labor in the purchase and consumption of goods and services. Building on the President’s Executive Order to eliminate human trafficking in federal contracting, we believe the federal government can lay out clear and fair guidelines for companies to monitor for and eliminate slavery in their supply chains and labor recruitment.
- We make recommendations on how the Administration can elevate and consolidate its internal efforts to counter trafficking in persons, from elevating the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking to a full Bureau, to encouraging the Administration to consolidate its support behind one single national trafficking hotline to mobilizing the power of national service through the Corporation for National and Community Service to empower local efforts to map and coordinate local responses to human trafficking.
- Finally, we make recommendations on how the Administration can engage Americans of all backgrounds to join the movement to eradicate modern-day slavery through the creation of a White House Call to Action and the production of a toolkit for faith and community groups to learn more and get involved.
In offering this report, we know that the possibility of this moment may only realize its full potential if our actions speak louder than our words; if we share more than mere spoken commitment, but also move to collaborate in earnest to ensure that every person enjoys full protection and accountability under the law, every product is responsibly sourced, and every survivor is provided with what they need to bring them to recovery.
It is in this spirit that our Council presents these recommendations to President Obama and his Administration. We believe these recommendations, while just a beginning, will contribute to a growing movement of conscience that will break forth into the collective will and action of Americans of every background.
Today, we stand together changed by a shared journey of learning and partnership, eager to do everything in our power to eradicate modern-day slavery and bring justice and dignity for all touched by the evil that is human trafficking.
We are proud to stand with the President Obama and his Administration on this vital moral issue. We commit ourselves to working with our government, our houses of worship and community-based organizations, and our fellow Americans, to end slavery in our time.
Susan K. Stern is the Chair of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.