Looking Back on 10 Years of Advocacy, and Rededicated to Ending Human Trafficking

By Shawna Bader-Blau, Executive Director, Solidarity Center & Bradley Myles, Chief Executive Officer, Polaris

The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) is marking its 10th anniversary this year. Reflecting on a decade of successful advocacy, we are energized to embark on building the next 10 years together with longtime partners and new allies, and to continue advocating for solutions to prevent and end all forms of human trafficking modern slavery in the United States and around the world.

ATEST has contributed to remarkable advancements over the past decade. Our advocacy efforts, alongside many others in the field, have led to a more than 50 percent increase in funding for key U.S. government agencies for combating human trafficking as well as substantial improvements in U.S. government anti-trafficking programming. ATEST has also closely engaged with Congress over the years, helping to critically influence key pieces of legislation. Over the last year, we have delivered significant advocacy and technical support to key Congressional offices in support of passage of a reauthorization of the TVPA.

The urgent moral imperative of this work could not be greater. Human trafficking generates more than $150 billion in illicit profits annually from the tens of millions of children, women and men who suffer in forced labor and sex trafficking. Yet we must not lose sight of the unprecedented human tragedy behind these numbers. Human trafficking is a crime that thrives globally and in the United States, but we have made enough progress in the last decade to know the problem is not intractable. ATEST has taken a lead in this effort—and going forward, will play a pivotal role.

Now more than ever, the anti-trafficking movement must bridge the gaps that divide us, and we must join forces to push for a shared agenda to end modern slavery that tackles all forms of human trafficking in the United States and throughout the world. We must rally together to hold the U.S. government accountable and ensure that it demonstrates effective, strategic leadership in combating trafficking, and offer policymakers concrete, non-partisan solutions that address the complexities of this horrendous crime, and that reflect the nuances of effective anti-trafficking interventions.

By using our diverse coalition as an advantage, and partnering with other groups, ATEST has crafted and sustained a unified voice, offering critical expertise to policymakers, promoting a holistic, mission-driven, strategic and sustainable approach that encompasses all forms of trafficking. We have recognized the crucial role trafficking survivors must take in shaping policy, and we have worked to support and amplify survivors’ voices. The result has been effective policy and smart legislation that has supported the freedom and resilience of survivors, and of communities vulnerable to exploitation.

Looking back on our first decade, we are extremely grateful for Humanity United’s support. By funding ATEST’s operations, investing in our members, and contributing important skills and expertise, Humanity United enabled us to become a self-sustaining coalition. [Randy Newcomb, Humanity United president and CEO, discusses ATEST’s emergence as a “vital and constructive voice in the human trafficking policy arena here.]

As we embark on our next decade, our goal to make a marked impact on anti-trafficking policy and practice remains firm as we transition to an independent coalition. In our next 10 years, we will build on the public’s growing awareness of human trafficking and the efforts of an ever-expanding number of governments and communities committed to increasing their involvement in the fight to end human trafficking.

ATEST looks forward to building on our successes and expanding our collaboration with partners as an independent coalition, and we are excited about the impact we will continue to make in the future. Much work lies ahead, and the freedom of millions hangs in the balance: ATEST will rise to meet this challenge.

The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking is a U.S.-based coalition that advocates for solutions to prevent and end all forms of human trafficking and modern slavery around the world. ATEST member organizations include: Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), ECPAT-USA, Free the Slaves, Futures Without Violence (FUTURES), International Justice Mission, National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), National Network for Youth (NN4Y), Polaris, Safe Horizon, Solidarity Center, Verité, and Vital Voices Global Partnership.