The Greater Lansing United Nations Association partnered with several organizations* (see below) to bring the conference “Creating Connections to Combat Human Trafficking: Global to Local Perspectives” to East Lansing. This was a full-day-plus conference designed to foster community action and awareness about human trafficking. We had a full registration of 150 with almost 20 presenters, including Ryan Kaminski, Director of Special Programs and Initiatives of UNA-USA, who traveled from New York to share the work of the United Nations in combating human trafficking. We were honored by an in-person presentation by Senator Debbie Stabenow!
The conference was on Saturday, November 15, 2014 with a special film screening and an art exhibit (both depicting human trafficking) held on Friday November 14. We appreciated sponsorship by many MSU departments as well as GLUNA member organizations.** (see below)
Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery in which people are recruited through the use of fraud, force, or coercion for the purposes of forced labor, sexual exploitation, or both. It is one of the largest and fastest-growing criminal enterprises in the world, directly affecting as many as 27 million women, children, and men in the United States and worldwide. The conference raised awareness about current human trafficking issues, highlighted anti-trafficking initiatives, provided a forum for further education about the realities of trafficking, and aimed to inspire active engagement to tackle human trafficking in our communities. See below for some of the participants’ notes, including what EACH OF US CAN DO to combat human trafficking.
* MSU’s Center for Gender in Global Context, Zonta Club of the Michigan Capitol Area, Michigan Chapter of AAUW (American Association of University Women), and the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force.
**Edgewood United Church Justice & Peace Task Force, Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing, Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith, PC, and an anonymous donor who matched contributions over $50.
What each of us can do:
· Donate to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking.
· Vote in the UN’s Global Survey for a Better World (Have Your Say) to assure that trafficking is included in the Post-2015 Millenium Development Goals (especially ending the trafficking of children by 2030.)
· Inform your Congressional representatives and senators about the UN’s work in human trafficking and advocate for full payment of our UN dues.
· Urge your members of congress to support the Girls Count Act
· Remember the 3 P’s (Prevention, Protection, & Prosecution) necessary to combat human trafficking.
· Inform people about human trafficking and share these action ideas with them.
Some Participant Notes from the Human Trafficking Conference
Keynote presenter, UNA Special Projects Director Ryan Kaminski, provided a global perspective:
· Human trafficking includes bonded labor and servitude.
· $120 billion in profits are generated by human trafficking worldwide.
· 27 million individuals are victims of human trafficking.
· For every one sex-trafficked victim, there is thought to be nine labor-trafficked victims.
· The Palermo Protocol, a UN resolution to fight trafficking adopted by the General Assembly on November 15, 2000, provides a working definition of trafficking as forced exploitation and delineates the obligations of nations to combat trafficking.
· 85 nations have ratified The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, including the U.S.
· The Human Rights Council established in 2006 (replacing the Commission on Human Rights) with 47 countries signed on helps with "norm building” and includes a review committee to evaluate situations and a Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children.
· The Human Rights Council is a subsidiary of the General Assembly with which it shares "best practices," provides advice and consultation, and reports to.
· A Trust Fund is needed to help victims’ programs, raise awareness, and convict traffickers.
· Advocacy needed to help victims and to convict traffickers.
· Birth registration is needed for children in every country to obtain accurate statistics and data worldwide.
· The difference between labor trafficking and sex trafficking must be taught.
· While the UN does some "naming and shaming" of countries, it is the task of governments to be accountable.
· Recommended reading: The Locust Effect, by Gary Haugen and Victor Boutros.