Countering Trafficking in Persons

A child beggar in front of Banteay Srey Temple, Cambodia.
A child beggar in front of Banteay Srey Temple, Cambodia. Parents with economic difficulty often need their children to help them with their work, for instance doing farming in the field, instead of going to school.
Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) /Makara Ouch

Modern slavery, also known as human trafficking or trafficking in persons, affects the most vulnerable in our societies, in particular women and youth. These horrific practices undermine rule of law, corrupt global commerce, foster gender inequality, and threaten global security. Human Trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of exploitation in forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation. Human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry worldwide with over 40 million people enslaved, and more than 70 percent of these being women and girls.

USAID has supported Counter-Trafficking in Persons (C-TIP) programs in over 81 countries and regions since 2001. USAID’s C-TIP approach follows the 4Ps: Prevention of trafficking through awareness-raising and addressing root causes, Protection of victims and survivors, Prosecution of traffickers by building government law enforcement capacity, and Partnership building for a strengthened response.

In 2012, USAID launched a Counter-Trafficking in Persons (C-TIP) Policy [PDF, 344K] to reinvigorate and further focus the agency’s C-TIP efforts. The policy emphasizes five key objectives:

  • Increased integration of C-TIP activities into broader development programs across sectors such as education, environment, food security, and economic growth
  • Application of rigorous research to inform the design of C-TIP programs through surveys and impact evaluations
  • Strengthened institutional accountability within USAID to combat trafficking
  • Investments to combat trafficking in critical TIP challenge countries
  • Increased C-TIP activities in conflict and crisis-affected areas

For more detailed information about these objectives and program examples, please see our one page description of the policy.

In 2011, USAID adopted a C-TIP Code of Conduct that prohibits all employees from engaging in trafficking in persons or any behaviors that may facilitate trafficking, such as commercial sex. In addition, all Agency employees are required to take counter-trafficking training, such as the online C-TIP Code of Conduct training. USAID also developed a set of standard operating procedures to prevent and respond to human trafficking abuses by USAID contractors, sub-contractors, assistance recipients, and sub-recipients. In 2013, USAID published a C-TIP Field Guide [PDF, 1.2MB] to educate USAID Mission personnel and partners about human trafficking, and provide technical assistance to integrate, design, implement, and monitor effective programs.

USAID seeks to explore the potential of innovative approaches, new technologies and dynamic partnerships to combat trafficking. One example is the Supply Unchained initiative, which aimed to use new technologies to end human trafficking in global supply chains, including the fishing sector, carpet and garment industries. Activities under this initiative recently concluded, and we are initiating lessons learned and best practices from the four activities funded.

Human trafficking is a fundamental obstacle to our mission as a development agency and undermines the development objectives we seek to accomplish through our programming. Human trafficking impedes health, economic growth, rule of law, women’s empowerment, and lifetime prospects for youth. USAID is one of several U.S. government departments and agencies tasked with implementing C-TIP activities. USAID participates in the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking (PITF), a Cabinet-level entity mandated by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) to coordinate federal efforts to combat trafficking in persons. The PITF meets annually and is chaired by the Secretary of State. USAID is also a member of the Senior Policy Operating Group to Combat Trafficking in Persons (SPOG), a quarterly interagency convening established by the 2003 Reauthorization of the TVPA to implement the vision of the PITF.


  • Africa – Poor economic conditions and weak governance and rights environments result in TIP in industries such as fishing, cocoa, and mining. USAID supports TIP prevention, protection and prosecution activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, and Rwanda, and has integrated C-TIP into development sector projects in Mozambique, Ghana, and Mali.
  • Asia – The Agency currently supports C-TIP activities in Nepal, Burma, Philippines, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, all five Central Asian Republics, and an Asia regional activity managed by the Regional Development Mission for Asia. In Bangladesh,USAID focuses on promoting safe migration. In Nepal, USAID fosters collaborative partnerships among government, private sector, and civil society stakeholders to improve foreign labor recruitment and mitigate TIP incidents, raise public awareness on countering human trafficking and safe migration, and enable survivors to access justice.
  • Europe & Eurasia – Since the collapse of communism, the region became increasingly a C-TIP focus area for USAID when a number of countries experienced an increase in trafficking as they opened their borders. USAID investments have primarily related to prevention and victim support in the Balkans, Eastern Europe and select countries of the former Soviet Union including Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Bosnia, and Azerbaijan.
  • Latin America and Caribbean – USAID’s approach to youth and citizen security programming in the northern triangle region of Central America addresses root issues related to unsafe migration to reduce vulnerability to TIP. Specifically, our Central America regional programs support institutional strengthening to identify trafficking victims and provide appropriate assistance, and identify potential traffickers. USAID currently has C-TIP activities in Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, Honduras, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.
  • Middle East – There is a significant flow of South Asian, Southeast Asian, Sub-Saharan and North African men, women and children to the Middle East for sex and labor trafficking. USAID is addressing these challenges through prevention, protection and prosecution programming. In Egypt, for example, USAID supports public awareness, vocational training, life skills, and victim protection.
Trafficking is widespread in the fishing industry, particularly in Southeast Asia.
Trafficking is widespread in the fishing industry, particularly in Southeast Asia. Often lured by unscrupulous recruiters promising lucrative jobs, workers are held captive on boats, where they are forced to work for little or no pay.


Ending Modern Slavery: USAID’s Counter-trafficking in Persons Policy

USAID C-TIP Activities by Funding (Map)

USAID's Global Efforts to End Modern Slavery

State Department Trafficking in Persons Reports

USAID Global Labor program

Executive Order on Combating Human Trafficking and Online Child Exploitation in the United States

Counter-Trafficking in Persons Policy [PDF, 344K]

USAID One-pager on Integration of C-TIP in Other Sectors [PDF, 234K]

Executive Order on Strengthening Protections Against TIP in Federal Contracts

Executive Order on Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking

U.S Government Entities Combating Human Trafficking Factsheet (J/TIP) (S.1 U.S. Government Entities Combating Human Trafficking) [pdf]

Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling factsheet [pdf 132,kb]

Handout on Recruitment Fees [pdf 148,kb]

List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor (Department of Labor)

Last updated: August 19, 2020

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