"The Human Rights Challenge of Globalization in Asia-Pacific-U.S.: The Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children," Nov. 13-15 in Honolulu, co-sponsored by the East-West Center and the University of Hawaii Globalization Research Center.

For more information on conference speakers, panel discussions, schedules and abstracts of papers, check 

HONOLULU (Nov. 13) -- Public policy on human rights and immigration has not caught up with global supply and demand, a shortfall that has fueled the international trafficking of people, speakers said at a trafficking conference today.

U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, in a taped address before more than 300 participants, said trafficking had become the third largest source of profit for organized crime after guns and drugs. She said federal and state agencies, law enforcement and social services, must work together on what has become "nothing less than the equivalent of modern-day slavery."

Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, executive director of the U.N. Development Fund for Women and a keynote speaker, said immigration policies make it impossible to legally supply labor demands around the world, creating a growing number of illegal immigrants who become vulnerable to traffickers. That illegal status leads to employers hiding and confining workers and to a lack of human-rights monitoring. "So long as capital moves more freely across the borders than people, this will encourage trafficking," she said.

Especially since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Heyzer said countries need to work together in setting standards and policies for immigration, including human rights protection and assistance.

Heyzer said exact numbers of trafficking victims are difficult to assess, with estimates of 700,000 to 4 million around the world.

Global economic agreements need to look at development both on international and local levels. "Look at employment security, make migration safe...this will stop trafficking."

Heyzer also said livelihood strategies for poor women will only work if competitive employment is available and if gender inequalities -- less value placed on daughters and work performed by women -- end. "Girls brought up in brothels and trained for domestic work" will likely return to sexual trafficking, she said.

Claude Allen, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said the United States has started to address the "drivers" of human trafficking through a comprehensive anti-trafficking law passed by the U.S. Congress in 2000. The law includes prevention, prosecution and protection of victims. Congress has approved $60 million to deal with trafficking and to work with non-governmental organizations.

He added that both "receiving states and sending states" had to take responsibility in reducing trafficking. He said 1 million girls and boys were involved in sex trafficking every year, earning $7 billion for illegal crime networks.

The U.S. State Department has devoted an office to deal with trafficking problems, and Allen said the United States will continue to engage other countries in passing anti-trafficking laws.

He said the government is monitoring its contract companies for use of illegal labor so that tax money is spent "with integrity." He also said the United States must "balance homeland security" needs with global partnerships.

A U.S. government report looked at trafficking in 89 countries. Asked why the United States wasn't included in the report, Allen said it was meant to provide the United States information to use in developing bilateral relations. "My presence here should send the signal that we take this very seriously."

The conference includes numerous panel discussions on trafficking issues in the region.

The East-West Wire is a news service provided by the East-West Center in Honolulu. Any or all of this report may be used with attribution to the East-West Center or to the person quoted.

For more information, contact Susan Kreifels at 808-944-7176 or

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