Acting Deputy Administrator John Barsa’s Remarks at the Revised Counter-Trafficking in Persons Policy Launch

Speeches Shim

Friday, January 15, 2021

Good morning everyone. I’m excited to be here with you all today to launch our newly revised policy on Counter-Trafficking in Persons.

Human trafficking — a form of modern day slavery — still exists in the shadows today. It’s the second largest criminal industry on earth, with more than 25 million people enslaved. And the vast majority of those victims are women and girls.

Human trafficking is a pervasive and heinous crime. It is taking place in many places around the world, from countries with rampant organized crime like Libya and Nigeria to alleged state-sponsored trafficking in Cuba.

It undermines global security, corrupts international trade, and attacks the core of human dignity, which lies at the heart of everything we do at USAID

This is also an issue that is personal for me. When I was at DHS, I oversaw the Blue Campaign, which raised awareness on the dangers of human trafficking. I was super proud of the work they did on this. And I’m glad that USAID has made the global fight against human trafficking a priority. Since 2001, our Agency has committed more than $340 million to fight this insidious threat. But we are ready to do more.

With our revised policy, we are fully integrating our efforts to fight human trafficking into every sector we work in — from democracy and economic growth to conflict prevention and humanitarian assitance. This is critical to advancing the stability of our partner countries and their ability to be self-reliant.

I want to highlight just three revisions of the policy that are important for all of us to understand.

First, we are engaging human trafficking survivors in our award review processes. Their input is essential for us to develop programs that truly prioritize their needs and advance policies that elevate their voices. In fact, we have with us today our two survivor consultants of the Network, Nat Paul and Bukola Oriola. They’ve provided valuable feedback on the revisions of this Policy. Nat and Bukola, thank you for helping make this a better policy!

Next, we are deepening our partnerships with the interagency, the private sector, civil society, and host governments. This will allow us to work closely together to build local capacity that addresses the root causes and conditions that allow human trafficking to take place.

Lastly, new staff will take our online training for the C-TIP Code of Conduct within their first month. This will ensure that staff begin their jobs understanding their duties to combat human trafficking.

There are several more updates to the policy, that I’m sure Mary will go through in more detail. But in short, our revised Policy lays out our commitment to end human trafficking and uphold the dignity, safety, and well-being of all survivors.

We are proud of our milestones and progress in the fight against human trafficking over the past several years. With our revised policy, I am confident that we will achieve so much more. The revisions in place will help us work toward the day when human trafficking ends once and for all.

Thank you again for having me today. Susan, back over to you.