Session 5: International Cooperation: A Precondition for a Coordinated Response from Government Agencies and Civil Society

As prepared for delivery by U.S. delegation
to the OSCE High-Level Conference
“Strengthening the OSCE Response to Trafficking in Human Beings”
Kyiv, June 11, 2013

The United States is committed to the idea that mixed migration flows must be addressed in a collaborative and effective manner.  We have learned through our own experience that partnerships must be nurtured between countries, at the regional level and in collaboration with international organizations and civil society.  To this end, we actively participate in several multilateral organizations such as the OSCE.

The issue of mixed flows is not new.  What is relatively new is a multidisciplinary and coordinated effort to help concerned stakeholders address human trafficking in mixed migration flows.  In the context of the OSCE, we welcome strengthening our ties and our collaboration with Mediterranean and Asian Partners to combat trafficking in persons.

In the United States, we have sought to develop a whole of government approach to combat trafficking in persons.  We’ve expanded our interagency task force to include more federal partners, including the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and, most recently, the Department of Transportation.  The intelligence community is devoting more resources to identifying trafficking networks.  We’ve strengthened protections so foreign-born workers understand and know their rights before traveling to the United States on temporary visas. And yet we still face challenges, particularly where minors are concerned. For example, while federal, state and local grant programs exist in the United States for vulnerable children, including those who are on the streets, we know that identified child trafficking victims face difficulties accessing needed services.  We face challenges in identifying child victims of sex trafficking, particularly because the victims are often provided false identification by their traffickers and, at least initially, self-identify as adults. In addition, some state child welfare agencies focus on children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by caregivers and may not specifically incorporate training programs or other protocols to identify and help human trafficking survivors.

So we have come to learn that systems aimed at protecting minors should have resources targeted for trafficked minors, who may require a specialized intervention.  Widespread training of and guidance for child protection workers is necessary to ensure that they are ready and able to identify trafficked minors and provide appropriate support.  Initial screenings are of the utmost importance to properly identify minors who are asylum seekers, refugees, potential human trafficking victims, unaccompanied minors, children with disabilities, or children with other needs.  Effective identification allows for appropriate care and response on the part of the various concerned authorities.

The Rome Seminar on Co-operation to Prevent Trafficking in Human Beings in the Mediterranean Region (February 8, 2013) highlighted areas of interest for possible collaboration between the OSCE and the Mediterranean Partners, such as labor trafficking and the protection of victims.  We thank Special Representative Giammarinaro for her presentation “Towards a Roadmap for Combating all Forms of Trafficking in Human Beings In the Mediterranean Region” (May 17, 2013) and we look forward to exploring further specific areas of collaboration with our Mediterranean Partners.