Remarks at a Meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (via VTC)

Ambassador Kelly Craft
Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 19, 2020


Thanks to Secretary Pompeo for organizing this critical discussion today spotlighting the administration’s focus on human trafficking.

The Trump Administration has taken decisive action to combat this evil crime, including the dedication of nearly half a billion dollars to the global fight against it.

Ivanka Trump is helping to lead that effort, and I am proud to support her in bringing new levels of attention and resources to combat the problem. Resources not just for catching and punishing criminals, but also focused on the needs of survivors. I’d like to thank Ivanka for reminding us all that trafficking is a human tragedy with survivors, who not only deserve our empathy and support, but also serve as some of the most impactful leaders and advocates in preventing trafficking.

During my travels over the last year, I’ve seen both the effects of human trafficking and the importance of funding efforts to stop it.

I’ve seen it in Colombia, where organizations like the Minderoo Foundation are hard at work eradicating modern slavery through innovative public-private partnerships.

I’ve seen it in Turkey and South Sudan, where UN agencies like the World Food Program, UNICEF, and UNHCR are hard at work with local NGOs to protect and support vulnerable people while building state capacity to address human trafficking.

These organizations – working on the ground across the world every day – can also help to detect, recognize, and disrupt traffickers.

Local law enforcement agencies also play a central role in addressing the problem. More than in any other profession, police officers are likely to encounter victims and traffickers in their everyday work – through neighborhood patrols, traffic stops, and responding to emergency calls – putting them in a special position to identify and intervene to rescue the victims and arrest the perpetrators.

How officers and deputies manage that initial encounter is critical in determining whether victims get the help they need and traffickers face justice.

Next month marks 20 years since the United States joined 116 other signatory states in creating the UN’s Trafficking in Persons Protocol. Today, nearly all Member States have acceded, though implementation remains inconsistent.

The Protocol was designed to promote three shared goals: strengthen trafficking prevention efforts, with particular attention to women and children; protect and assist trafficking victims; and improve cooperation among nations, and particularly countries of origin, transit, and destination.

Over the last two decades, we’ve seen strides in all three categories, and earlier this month USUN hosted a discussion along with the State Department’s Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons to review the progress we have made.

Participants in that discussion emphasized not just the accomplishments, but also the importance of integrating survivors in prevention efforts, strengthening accountability for governments and businesses, and coordinating efforts amid the challenges of COVID-19.

COVID-19 has exacerbated trafficking dangers. Loss of jobs, growing poverty, school closures and a rise in online interactions are increasing vulnerabilities and creating opportunities for organized crime groups.

Women and girls already account for more than 70% of detected human trafficking victims, and today are among the hardest hit by the pandemic. With previous downturns showing that women face a harder time getting jobs during and after crises, vigilance is especially important now.

While much has been accomplished in the fight against human trafficking, I believe it is important that we use this anniversary to expand public-private partnerships in this area and push for the full, effective, and universal implementation of the UN Protocol. The U.S. Mission to the United Nations will be leading this effort, and I look forward to working with the many of you here to push it forward.