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A Good Day

I’ve been working in the field of combating trafficking in persons (C-TIP) for over a decade. In this arena, where people are bought and sold as chattel, there are a lot of bad days. Still, over the past ten years, I’ve seen brave shelter directors take on traffickers, despite threats of violence. I’ve seen trafficking victims overcome incredible hardship and go on to help other survivors. I’ve seen diplomats take a stand and say, enough, we are not going to look the other way. And I’ve seen NGOs, together with policy makers, fight to get laws adopted that literally change the lives of people.

Those are the good days, where we need to take stock and celebrate.  Today is one of those days.

This morning, the Administrator of USAID, Dr. Rajiv Shah, launched the Agency’s new Counter-Trafficking in Persons Policy.

In line with President Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development and under the leadership of Secretary Clinton, this policy will draw on the best practices from the last decade -- providing guidance on pursuing more effective, efficient, and evidence-based approaches in counter-trafficking.

The main drivers of trafficking are linked to the development challenges USAID tackles every day around the world, including gender discrimination, tenuous rule of law, limited education and lack of jobs. Since 2001, USAID has programmed $163.3 million on C-TIP and is one of the world’s largest donors in this field.  

The policy focuses on helping USAID make the most impact with each dollar we invest in C-TIP. We want to take advantage of our comparative advantage working in prevention and protection, and we want to use our Missions in the field to support state-of –the- art work. We have champions around the globe who do amazing work, and we want to be able to emulate their successes and learn from their challenges. We want to create new partnerships, and use 21st century technology and innovation to be able to bring to scale best practices.

We still have a lot of work to do. Recent estimates of the number of people enslaved in sex or labor exploitation range from 12 to 27 million. However, by launching this policy, USAID is poised to be a catalytic partner with NGOs, the private sector, and with local governments. We look forward to that collaboration.

This policy launch comes after a year of listening and talking to experts in this field, of consultations both inside and outside USAID. It is their hard work and commitment that we celebrate today. I am very grateful for days like today, and for the privilege of being able to do this work for the Administration and President Obama at this critical time. I am honored to have had the opportunity to work on this issue with so many deeply committed colleagues and capable partners.

Sarah Mendelson, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Democracy, Conflict & Humanitarian Assistance, USAID.