In 2001, the United States took the initiative in eviscerating human trafficking by launching the Trafficked-in Persons report. The report, managed by the State Department, extensively reviews the preventative efforts of 184 countries in ending human trafficking. Using data gathered through embassies, consulates and other State Department subsidiaries, the TIP report evaluates each country based on a 4-tier system (includes Tier 2 watch list). If a country’s efforts are deemed satisfactory, they are given Tier 1 status. If they fall short, they are placed in one of the next three tiers depending on their efforts to remedy their unsatisfactory status. Although the TIP report has been hailed for its success as a revolutionary countermeasure, it has also attracted criticism and has been the source of diplomatic friction for the U.S. Many countries resent the fact that the report bases its ‘minimum standards’ on the ‘The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000’ instead of its international counterpart, the United Nations Protocol. Currently, as the TIP report enters its 11th year of publication, important questions surround it: Should the U.S. rank countries based on their Human Trafficking efforts? Is it appropriate for a single nation to assume this responsibility? Should the U.S. act as a global ‘trafficking cop’? By examining the effectiveness of the TIP report, and examining the position of its detractors, it will be argued that though the TIP report is an invaluable resource against human trafficking, it would be better served if fazed into an international body.
As the number of trafficked victims approaches 27 million worldwide, it is important to acknowledge the importance of an effective countermeasure like the TIP report. Through the tier system, the TIP report recognizes countries that are sufficiently preventing human trafficking, while conversely rousing the efforts of countries that have yet to implement a responsible countermeasure towards the pernicious practice. It is also sympathetic toward countries that are demonstrating a willingness to meet minimum standards, but have yet to do so.
Spreading beyond its ‘watchdog’ role, the TIP report and its tier system are also an effective tool used by the State Department to gauge its foreign aid investments. During the last two years, the U.S. Trafficking in Persons Office received 998 applications from 546 countries requesting $547 million in assistance. Equipped with budget of $39.1 million, The TIP office relies heavily on the ‘country-specific’ tier ranking in ascertaining how to stretch its limited budget.
Thus countries placed in Tier 3 and Tier 2 Watch List; also receive the most financial assistance. As stated by Ambassador Luis CdeBaca in a testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee: “This linkage demonstrates that the report isn’t just an exercise in finger-pointing at countries that aren’t doing a good job, but is an important tool for determining where our foreign assistance dollars can be used most effectively. ” Now in its 11th year, the TIP report continues to examine 184 countries with the simple goal of preventing the practice of human trafficking by engaging foreign governments. Despite its noble premise however, it has also been the subject of a lot of criticism from both other governments, organizations and even elements of the U.S. governments.
Some of the main criticisms include the fact that the minimum standards mandated by the TIP report are based on the TVPA and not the United Nations Protocol.
A fine example is Singapore. Reacting to the 2010 TIP report, Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) accused it of being full of inaccuracies. Citing vague, unverified and unaccounted data, the MFA described the report as ‘misleading’ and poorly researched. The MFA also insinuated that it was inappropriate for the U.S. to be conducting an international survey on