The Hague Institute Stands Up Against Human Trafficking

“Be an everyday hero” was the slogan at the STAND UP Against Human Trafficking Symposium on 8 and 9 October at Nieuwspoort in The Hague. The event, organized by the Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas (FAWCO) and the FAWCO Foundation, raised awareness about sustainable rescue in human trafficking cases by inviting speakers to present the projects and tools they have developed to make modern slavery history and to support the sustainable recovery of victims.

In what Mary Adams, Vice President of the FAWCO Foundation and one of the organizers of the symposium, called the “grand finale”, The Hague Institute’s Dr. Jill Coster van Voorhout and Fabienne Smith presented some of the main results of their public-private partnership to prevent and combat human trafficking. Together with one of their partners, Ms. Maria Anne van Dijk from ABN AMRO Bank, they explained the design of the project, its impact to date, and foreseen next steps.

This public-private partnership (PPP), which was initiated by The Hague Institute in June 2015, has two main objectives: to support the role of financial institutions in government-led financial investigations, and to support financial institutions that want to help their (corporate) clients to make their production and value chains free of human trafficking. The PPP is a voluntary collaboration that also involves Global March Against Child Labour, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, and the Bureau of the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence against Children.

During their presentation, Dr. Coster van Voorhout and Ms. Smith touched upon their motivations for this project. “Human trafficking is one of today’s main global justice challenges, and evidence-based efforts to combat and prevent this crime require state-of-the-art research and practice.” The Hague Institute therefore conducts policy-relevant research, offers discrete advice regarding rule of law to policy-makers, and initiates public-private partnerships such as the one presented at the symposium.

To date, the measurable impact of this partnership includes – among other things – the role of financial institutions in anti-human trafficking efforts being placed on the agenda of the Meeting of all Rapporteurs on Human Trafficking at the European Commission, and of the Meeting of European Bankers Alliance against Trafficking. Additional outputs will include the second edition of Dr. Coster van Voorhout’s book on Human Trafficking for Labour Exploitation, and a forthcoming policy brief in The Hague Institute Series. Future work will build on these results and look for ways in which this type of partnership can be applied in other vulnerable sectors, such as transport, tourism and agriculture.

Within the context of this partnership, The Hague Institute focuses also on the nexus between human trafficking and migrant smuggling. The Institute has provided input into the legislative process of the EU, and recommendations so far include making the crime explicitly dependent on a financial or other material benefit; exempting from punishment providers of humanitarian assistance; and providing specific safeguards for victims of smuggling. More about this can be read in the Spring 2016 edition of Intersections magazine.

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