Speeches: Ending Modern Slavery: The Role of U.S. Leadership

Chairman Corker,
Senator Menendez,
Members of the Committee,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, for your leadership in combating trafficking in persons. On behalf of the State Department, I look forward to working closely with you to tackle this terrible crime and human rights abuse. This issue is a policy priority for the Administration and Secretary Kerry, in particular, and I thank you for the opportunity to speak today.

What do we, in the U.S. government, mean when we talk about human trafficking? Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (or TVPA), trafficking in persons includes forced labor, forced prostitution of adults, and the prostitution of children. The term human trafficking describes acts of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, although inducing minors into the commercial sex trade is considered trafficking even if no force, fraud or coercion is involved. It can include, but does not require, movement of individuals. Trafficking in persons harms people and corrodes communities. It corrupts labor markets and global supply chains that are essential to a thriving global economy. It undermines rule of law and stability. Fighting trafficking in persons is the smart thing to do, and it is the right thing to do. As President Obama has said, “Our fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time, and the United States will continue to lead it.” It is our responsibility as a country and as individuals to protect the universal values of liberty and freedom.

There is a lot that we as individuals can do to join this struggle against modern slavery. I recently went to SlaveryFootprint.org and took a survey to learn how my consumption habits are connected to modern-day slavery. It was a stark reminder – many of the products I use on a daily basis, the battery in my cell phone, the chocolate I eat, the cotton clothes I wear, may have been produced from the work of dozens of slaves. Slavery Footprint, a project seed-funded by the State Department, has reached millions of consumers globally and given them a voice to insist that the food we eat and the products we buy are made free of forced labor.

Let me begin by discussing what the U.S. government is doing here at home. Federal agencies have been going the extra mile, spurred by President Obama’s March 2012 direction to his Cabinet to redouble the Administration’s efforts to combat human trafficking. The President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat and Trafficking in Persons, which Congress established and Secretary Kerry currently chairs, has strengthened its collaborative work, including developing and implementing the nation’s first-ever Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States. Government agencies are enabling law enforcement and service providers to deploy resources more effectively and raising public awareness both at home and abroad.

Federal agencies are also working to expand partnerships with civil society and the private sector to bring more resources to bear in fighting this injustice. The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued an advisory last September to financial institutions on recognizing “red flags” that may indicate financial activity related to human trafficking as well as the distinct crime of human smuggling. The advisory provides common terms that financial institutions may use when reporting activity related to these crimes that will assist law enforcement in better identifying possible cases of human trafficking.

As the largest single purchaser of goods and services both in the United States and around the world, the U.S. government must set the highest standards for our own business practices. With Executive Order 13627, the President committed the federal government to strengthen protections against human trafficking in federal contracting. Just over a week ago, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council published updates to the Federal Acquisition Regulation, as required by this Executive Order and related requirements in the Ending Trafficking in Government Contracting Act (set forth in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013), establishing a number of new and important anti-trafficking safeguards. In addition, the State Department funded Verité, an award-winning labor rights NGO, to develop a range of tools and resources for all businesses – not just federal contractors – committed to preventing trafficking. As part of this initiative, Verité just published a report entitled Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking in Persons in Federal and Corporate Supply Chains, which details the risks of human trafficking in 11 key sectors where federal procurement is significant. This type of supply chain risk analysis can help federal contractors, other businesses, and consumers identify and mitigate human trafficking.

Here in the United States, we have modern-day heroes who are changing how we do business. The members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers have transformed Florida tomato fields from a place of wide-spread egregious exploitation into one where workers’ rights are not only respected, but prioritized. They demanded that the large restaurant and supermarket chains purchase tomatoes at a fair price. On January 29, in front of leaders from the private sector, civil society, and the Federal government assembled for a White House Forum on Combating Trafficking in Persons in Supply Chains, Secretary Kerry presented the Coalition with the 2015 Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons. Among the accomplishments for which the Coalition was recognized is its Fair Foods Program, a highly successful worker-based social responsibility model that leverages the market power of major corporate buyers, coupled with strong consumer awareness, worker training, and robust enforcement mechanisms to end labor trafficking, enhance wages, and promote workplace rights.

Congress and the American people also have much to be proud of. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, as well as the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, known as the Palermo Protocol. We have come a long way in the past 15 years: 166 states are now party to the Palermo Protocol. Human trafficking has moved from a misunderstood issue to an international priority. More than one hundred countries have passed anti-trafficking laws and many have established specialized law enforcement units, set up trafficking victim assistance mechanisms, and launched public awareness campaigns aimed at combating this worldwide crime that affects every country.

However, we have a long way to go. Although the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates there are 21 million victims of forced labor around the world, the 2014 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report notes that fewer than 45,000 trafficking victims were identified in 2014. Convictions of traffickers remain woefully insufficient given the magnitude of the crime. This is a troubling trend we must continue working to address. Having adequate anti-trafficking laws is an important first step for any country, but these laws must be enforced, and traffickers held accountable.

Fueled by the dedication of officers in every bureau of the Department as well as at U.S. missions around the world, the TVPA-mandated TIP Report plays an important role in confronting this lucrative crime. In accordance with the Minimum Standards of the TVPA, the TIP Report assesses the adequacy of national laws in prohibiting and punishing the crime and evaluates government actions to prosecute suspects and protect victims. Countries and territories are ranked by tiers based on these standards. Tier 1 countries fully comply with the Minimum Standards. Tier 2 and Tier 2 Watch List countries do not, but are making significant efforts to do so. Tier 3 countries are not making significant efforts to fully comply with the Minimum Standards. These rankings help hold governments accountable in their efforts to fight human trafficking. They motivate governments to develop policies and structures to fight this serious crime. In fact, researchers have documented the correlation between tier ranking downgrades and states’ subsequent enactment of anti-trafficking legislation.

The TIP Report includes specific recommendations for how each country can better prevent this crime, prosecute its suspected perpetrators, and assist its victims. These recommendations are the heart of the Report. They guide U.S. diplomacy and engagement on human trafficking issues – both publicly and privately. They also serve as a roadmap to better address the problem – not for the sake of improving a tier ranking, but to make institutional changes that will put additional traffickers behind bars, help victims get assistance, and prevent exploitation of the vulnerable.

A key element to the TIP Report is identifying and documenting trends in types of exploitation, in criminal strategies, and in raising awareness and cracking down on the crime. For example, over time we have seen more governments recognize the important contributions of NGOs in this fight and improved cooperation, especially in the areas of victim identification and victim services. Many countries are beginning to grapple with the extent and challenges of detecting forced labor. While we have seen an increase in the detection of forced labor cases, there is still a large disparity in government efforts to address forced labor, which is considered to be more prevalent globally than sex trafficking. In victim identification and services, women and girls appear to comprise the vast majority of identified victims of sex trafficking and are also a substantial portion of labor trafficking victims. In addition, we have seen links in regional and trans-regional human trafficking to economic disparity and migration flows, the presence of organized crime, conflicts and political instability, official corruption and weak rule of law.

The State Department and USAID have sought to combine anti-trafficking and labor rights diplomacy with complementary programming to help countries achieve results. The State Department’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Office is currently overseeing 98 projects worth over $59 million in 71 countries around the world. The TIP Office’s foreign assistance targets both sex trafficking and labor trafficking through implementation of the “3P” paradigm of prevention, protection of victims, and prosecution of suspected traffickers. A fourth “P” for partnership, is also a critical element in the majority of programs. Along with funding NGOs that offer services to trafficking victims, much of our anti-trafficking assistance is designed to help partner governments build their own capacity to fight human trafficking. In the last two years, Botswana, Haiti, Maldives, Papua New Guinea, and Seychelles all passed anti-trafficking laws, and Morocco and Namibia have drafted anti-trafficking legislation. In March 2014, the Bahamas secured its first conviction for human trafficking. Maldives also saw its first trafficking conviction.

Successful programs often work in close partnership with host country governments and key stakeholders to encourage a comprehensive response to trafficking. For example, in Afghanistan, a State Department grantee partnered with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to establish an advocacy council comprised of local non-governmental organizations and relevant government agencies to enhance protection measures for victims of human trafficking. The council and government coalition partners have adopted minimum standards of care for trafficking victims and provide training and capacity-building assistance. The TIP Office is currently funding a global project that integrates survivors of trafficking into a six-month vocational and educational program in the hotel service industry. The project provides survivors and at-risk youth with life skills and vocational training through a combination of training and practical instruction in coordination with leading hotels. This project has already demonstrated successes in Mexico and Vietnam and was recently expanded to India and Ethiopia.

Labor programming from the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) targets forced labor through strengthening the organizational and technical capacity of worker rights organizations, providing socio-economic support and alternative livelihood opportunities to exploited workers, and strengthening systems to promote identification and remediation of labor law violations in a variety of sectors at the local, regional, and international levels. DRL’s grants are designed to bolster civil society and labor’s capacity to play a role in migration policymaking. The Department makes an effort to ensure that trade and investment policies, agreements, and preference programs consistently address work conditions for both national and foreign migrant workers. In collaboration with the State Department’s Economic Bureau and the Department of Commerce, DRL partners with multinational corporations, business councils, and American Chambers of Commerce to convey expectations on labor rights both to host governments and to companies within their supply chains.

The State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration funds eight regional migration programs that build government and civil society capacity to identify and protect vulnerable migrants, including victims of human trafficking. The bureau also funds a program that facilitates the family reunification of foreign trafficking victims identified in the United States and contributes to a global fund that helps stranded trafficking victims voluntarily return home.

Corruption and an environment of impunity are significant factors contributing to the practice of human trafficking. The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs has some of the Department’s strongest tools for strengthening rule of law and helping governments prevent and combat corruption. Its anti-corruption and law enforcement programming provides training to law enforcement officers and the judiciary on investigating human trafficking and corruption cases and address the linkages among human trafficking, corruption, and organized crime.

Interagency training at U.S. missions overseas, including Brazil, Cambodia, the Philippines, Togo, the Dominican Republic, and Hong Kong, will enable State Department, DHS, and FBI agents to pursue trafficking cases in the U.S. through international cooperation and engagement in foreign countries. These agencies have trained some 2,000 law enforcement and consular officers, as well as locally employed staff, at embassies and consulates around the world. Closer to home on our border with Mexico, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have collaborated with Mexican law enforcement counterparts to exchange leads and evidence, assist victims, and develop high-impact prosecutions under both U.S. and Mexican law.

USAID is one of the largest donors engaged in efforts to counter human trafficking. Since 2001, USAID has programed approximately $180 million in anti-trafficking activities in over 70 countries and regional missions. Throughout all of its work, USAID seeks to address the root causes of exploitation and vulnerability, such as gender and ethnic discrimination, lack of educational and employment opportunities, weak rule of law, and the absence of social welfare safety nets. In Jordan, USAID has integrated counter-trafficking activities into a broader human rights program combating sexual and gender based violence, early marriage, and child labor among Syrian refugees and host communities affected by the Syrian crisis. With State Department funding, the International Centre for Migration Policy Development is assessing the impact of the Syrian war on trafficking in persons in Syria and the surrounding region (Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey).

In Bangladesh, along with providing training and technical assistance to a range of government officials, USAID has worked to improve community awareness of the risks of human trafficking throughout the country. Local government officials, teachers, parents, students, and community leaders have learned how to prevent human trafficking and support the needs of survivors. USAID also has helped prospective migrant workers protect themselves from deception and abuse through awareness campaigns and trainings on the overseas recruitment process, worker registration, and other risks they may face. USAID continues to train media professionals, NGOs and independent journalists on investigative reporting, story development, and human rights with a focus on migrant worker rights. Complementary TIP Office programming has supported the development and distribution of an anti-trafficking law enforcement training toolkit and hands-on training for 45 Bangladeshi law enforcement officials on the toolkit’s practical application. In Dhaka, Bogra, and Jessore, 258 trafficking survivors so far have received State Department supported shelter, rehabilitation, and reintegration services.

In 2013, Congress gave the State Department a new innovative tool to combat trafficking of children, the Child Protection Compacts (CPC). The compacts can help build sustainable and effective systems of justice, prevention, and protection. I am pleased to tell you that the TIP Office is moving forward to propose the first Child Protection Compact Partnership – to be developed and implemented jointly with the Government of Ghana. This Compact Partnership will include developing a collaborative plan to implement new and more effective policies and programs to reduce child trafficking and improve child protection in Ghana. Several strong civil society organizations are currently working to address child sex trafficking and forced labor in Ghana and, in addition to the Ghanaian government, the TIP Office expects to engage multiple partners to fulfill the promise of this first Partnership.

Our international partners – including civil society, other governments, and international organizations – play an essential role in making each step forward possible. In the Asia-Pacific region, Australia has taken on a leadership role with its Australia-Asia Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons, a five-year AUD50 million program to support the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and seven Southeast Asian countries in developing and implementing criminal justice responses to trafficking in persons. In addition, Australian police regularly conduct trainings to combat child sex tourism and other forms of human trafficking across the Asia-Pacific region. ASEAN under the Government of Burma’s chairmanship chose to highlight anti-trafficking priorities in 2014.

The European Union is strengthening anti-trafficking efforts across its member states through the issuance and enforcement of its 2011 anti-trafficking directive, as well as the 2012 directive establishing minimum standards of support to victims of crime. Sweden has allocated millions of dollars in anti-trafficking funds in recent years, including in grants to international organizations such as UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration. The Government of the United Kingdom has committed to increase anti-trafficking engagement in select countries around the world and will build on current anti-trafficking programming including “Work in Freedom” – a five-year, approximately $15 million initiative implemented by the ILO to prevent trafficking for labor exploitation of 100,000 women and girls in South Asia by targeting known routes used for the trafficking of migrant workers from South Asia to the Gulf States.

In December, with U.S. support, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) launched its Handbook on Preventing Domestic Servitude in Diplomatic Households, which is relevant for all international organizations and reaches beyond the OSCE region. Also in December of last year, member states of the Organization of American States revised the organization’s Work Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons in the Western Hemisphere for the 2015-2018 timeframe. The revised, robust plan includes awareness training for diplomatic personnel, protections against trafficking in government procurement of goods and services, greater oversight of recruitment and placement agencies, and inclusion of trafficking survivors’ input in the development of victim assistance policies and programs.

Civilian security and human rights are closely interwoven, and promoting security is often a key means of supporting human rights. Crises increase vulnerabilities to trafficking, as people are displaced, lose income sources and community support systems, and seek physical and economic security for themselves and their families. The breakdown of social and government structures leaves populations defenseless as protections are reduced and options for recourse disappear. In the fight against human trafficking, the State Department looks at the challenge from a holistic foreign policy perspective. We are increasingly mainstreaming anti-trafficking elements into other foreign assistance programs. Our anti-trafficking programs rely on broader U.S. supported reforms in rule of law, community security, and conflict prevention.

The reality is that conflicts and ineffective states give rise to trafficking and allow it to persist. We must address these underlying causes to win this fight. This is a critical component of the State Department and USAID’s work. The U.S. government works diligently to prevent and stabilize conflicts, and, where it cannot, to help refugees and the internally displaced. These activities complement our strategic efforts in fighting human trafficking. Where the United States, foreign partners, and civil society can help address state weakness, we provide a more stable and effective platform for protecting citizens. Poor enforcement of labor laws, discrimination, corruption, and restrictions on freedom of association and on other human and labor rights leave people at risk of exploitation, including trafficking. The struggle against modern slavery is one of interconnected threats and opportunities. I am proud of the leading role the United States has played, with strong leadership from Congress, in elevating the global profile of this issue, helping free individuals from modern slavery, and galvanizing the work of others to join in to this critical effort. The road is long in our battle against human trafficking, but working with our global partners, the United States will not relent in our multipronged approach to combat this scourge. We welcome Congress’s interest and partnership in overcoming this global challenge.

Thank you and I look forward to your questions.

East Asia and the Pacific: Remarks at the Institute of Security and International Studies

Date: 01/26/2015 Description: Assistant Secretary Danny Russel delivers remarks the Institute of Security and International Studies, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. - State Dept Image

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Professor Thitinan, thank you so much for that kind introduction. Hello Bangkok, Sawadee krap. It’s really great to be back in Thailand and it’s really an honor for me to be here at Chula — a great, great school with a wonderful reputation. Let me start with a public service announcement. The bureau I’m responsible for, the East-Asia Pacific Bureau, now has a Twitter account, in large part thanks to former Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney, who has come back and joined our Bureau. So I want you all, if you would, to follow us on Twitter “@USAsiaPacific.” So I got that commercial out of the way.

I first visited Thailand many years ago in the early 90’s as a junior officer; stayed for at least a week or so at the home of a Foreign Service friend who was serving here, and like all Americans — like all visitors to Thailand — I fell in love. The warmth and the hospitality of the Thai people made a huge impression on me. I experience it every time I come back.

I also had the great honor while working at the White House at the National Security Council to accompany President Obama when he came to Thailand in 2012 in November. And the extraordinary experience of visiting Wat Po, the honor of being received by His Majesty the King, similarly made a profound impression on the President and has stayed with him.

So, I come here as a friend. I’m in the middle of a trip through Southeast Asia. I also have stopped already in the Philippines and Malaysia. When I leave here, I’m on my way to Cambodia. Now I didn’t bring the President of the United States with me this time, but I am here for the same reason that President Obama came to Asia twice last year and has come on an annual basis prior to that.

I came here for the same reason that so many students and business people are flocking to the Asia-Pacific and the reason that our merchant ships and our navy ships, frankly, call on ports here. It’s because the United States is also a Pacific nation. We are a resident Pacific power, and our prosperity and our security is closely linked — inextricably linked — with that of Asia. Our communities are connected by trade and travel and family ties.

And our fates are closely linked by the many global challenges that face us from climate change to pandemic diseases to violent extremism. One thing that I have learned is that no nation, however strong, can solve these problems alone. So first I’ll talk about the regional system — the regional architecture — that that United States and our allies and partners, including Thailand, have worked on and built to meet them. And then I’ll spend some time talking about U.S.-Thai relations and what we see as the pathway forward.

For many decades — 2015 is in fact the 70th anniversary of the end of the World War and the creation of the United Nations — the U.S. has worked with Pacific and Asian allies. We’ve worked with partners like the ASEAN members to advance security, prosperity, and democracy through the region. And together, we’ve built an architecture, a system of regional rules and institutions that aim at strengthening the rule of law.

This architecture, this system, has helped to keep the peace in the region, and many many nations have taken advantage of the space provided by this peace and stability to develop both politically and economically. We see this in the many vibrant democracies that have risen over the decades in places as diverse and as different as Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan.

Looking closer to this neighborhood — while significant challenges remain in Myanmar — we’ve seen a historic opening up of that country after decades of isolation. And next door in Cambodia, the agreement between the government and the opposition party last year has now created some real opportunities for reform and for strengthening democracy. And in all of these places, democratic progress and economic progress have gone hand in hand. And we’ve often seen success in one country inspire progress by a neighbor.

The Obama administration has supported this region’s progress in many ways, such as increasing our direct engagement with ASEAN, which we see as a pillar of the international order. [The President] decided to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. He appointed our first – and now our second — U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN. And he, year after year, has personally and actively participated in the East Asia Summit.

The U.S. strongly supports building up that summit – the EAS- as the premier forum for allowing leaders to address regional political and security issues, and that includes challenges like the disputes in the South China Sea. And we also strongly support the ASEAN Economic community that is set to launch at the end of this year as well.

We support, have hosted, and actively participate in APEC which is the economic pillar of the Asia-Pacific region. And APEC has done a lot to further the recovery from the global financial crisis, to empower women economically, and to ensure that growth is inclusive, that its benefits are helping people out of poverty and helping to grow the middle class throughout the region.

And in APEC this year in Manila, we intend to explore how we can help expand the practice of Corporate Social Responsibility to promote more inclusive economic growth.

Now, the oldest, the most venerable pillars of the regional order are our alliances, including our alliance between the United States and the Kingdom of Thailand, and the United States and the Republic of the Philippines. That’s true for Australia, it’s true for Japan, and it’s true for the Republic of Korea. This system of alliances and security partnerships is not a legacy of the 20th century. It is an investment in the 21st century. It is essential. And that’s true for a number of reasons.

Number one – our alliance system is the backbone of cooperation in the region and around the globe. And it stands for the rule of law when it’s challenged — and that applies for example to problematic actions to unilaterally change the status quo in the South China Sea. We work regularly with our allies to make sure that our forces can operate together in a crisis at a moment’s notice.

And America’s enduring 182-year and counting close relationship with Thailand is no exception. In fact, together we’ve addressed humanitarian crises, together we’ve responded to natural disasters, we’ve combatted piracy, advanced public health, protected refugees, collaborated on counter-terrorism and law enforcement efforts to fight threats to international security. This cooperation is important to both of us, the region, and the world, and it will continue.

But our relationship with Thailand is defined by more than the number of years that we’ve been allies, or even more than our common interests or our aspirations. Our friendship, founded so long ago, has been constantly refreshed over time — by Prince Mahidol’s time in the U.S. studying at Harvard; by the birth of His Majesty the King in Massachusetts; by His Majesty’s significant contributions to American culture, by many many connections.

Our broad, enduring friendship is refreshed year in and year out by the thousands of Thai students who come to study in the United States every year, and I hope you will soon be among them. Similarly by the many Americans who come to Thailand to study here. So for over two centuries, Americans have lived in and contributed to Thailand in various ways just as the Thai have done in America.

We stood as partners in WWI, supporting democratic ideals during the conflict in Indochina. We fought the scourge of terrorism as partners for decades and continue to do so today in facing the new and virulent threat of radical jihadism. And we’ve been partners to bringing stability and prosperity to the people of Thailand and more broadly, the region.

For over half a century, the Peace Corps and USAID workers have helped with teaching, helped with rural development. And our health care workers and scientists have collaborated on research to combat malaria and HIV/AIDS. Our law enforcement officers tackle trafficking in persons, narcotics; trafficking in wildlife. And this will continue.

We’ve also enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial economic and trading relationship. The United States is Thailand’s third largest trading partner. American companies are major investors in Thailand, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs here, bringing leading technologies, bringing high standards, and I think that the experience of these U.S. companies shows that it’s not just the quantity of trade and investment that’s important — although the quantity matters — it’s the quality.

Doing business with America means more training and more skilled development for Thai workers. It means better labor and environmental standards that promote growth. It means an engagement that is helping Thailand to escape the middle income trap and to improve the lives of regular people.

And I particularly want to pick up on Professor Thitinan’s reference to a way in which we are planting the seeds for the future, investing in the future of our relationship today, which is the Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiative — YSEALI, definitely not silly. Now I understand – am I right in thinking there are some YSEALI members in the audience today? Let me see. (Pause.) Alright, welcome, welcome. Well, I’m a fan. Good for you.

I hope that the numbers will expand and that pretty soon all the students will be raising their hands. Because not only is YSEALI a project that President Obama has personally invested a great deal of priority to… as somebody who, himself, was a young person in Southeast Asia for a few years himself, he feels a very powerful connection. He’s a believer in this program. I’ve been with him repeatedly in Southeast Asia when he’s hosted town hall meetings with YSEALI members here in the region, including some Thai students who asked him questions — tough questions.

And we’ve brought YSEALI members to the United States as well, and we do so on a regular basis. It’s one way that we’re engaging with young leaders and helping you to engage with each other and to engage across national borders within the ten ASEAN countries, to help promote an ASEAN identity. With your help, YSEALI is creating a cadre of young leaders here that work in partnership with each other and the United States to tackle the challenges that you have identified as important, things that matter to you and that you see as challenges: economic development, environmental protection, education, civic engagement.

I’ve been impressed and I know that President Obama has been tremendously impressed by the quality of the people, of you, of YSEALI members and it’s great to be able to interact with you and I strongly support what you’re doing.

Now more broadly, beyond the students and beyond YSEALI, I know that this is a thoughtful group and you follow the news and you’re interested in bilateral relations. So while I’ve spoken at some length about what defines our partnership, both historically and prospectively, I also need to say something about the political developments here in Thailand and the impact that has on U.S.-Thai relations over the course of the past year.

The fact is, and it’s unfortunate, but our relationship with Thailand has been challenged by the military coup that removed a democratically-elected government eight months ago. This morning, I had a chance to sit down and hold discussions with first, former Prime Minister Yingluck, then former Prime Minister Abhisit, and then with the interim Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Tanasak.

And in each case, I’ve discussed the current political situation in Thailand with each of them. And all sides have spoken about the importance of reconciliation and their commitment to work to achieve Thailand’s democratic future.

Now I understand this is an extremely sensitive issue, and I bring it up with all humility and great respect for the Kingdom of Thailand and for the Thai people.

The United States does not take sides in Thai politics. We believe it is for the Thai people to determine the legitimacy of their political and legal processes. But we are concerned about the significant restraints on freedoms since the coup, including restrictions on speech and on assembly, and I’ve been very straightforward about these concerns.

We’re also particularly concerned that the political process doesn’t seem to represent all elements of Thai society. Now I want to repeat, we’re not attempting to dictate the political path that Thailand should follow to get back to democracy or take sides in Thai politics. But an inclusive process promotes political reconciliation, which in turn is key to long-term stability. That’s where our interests lie. The alternative — a narrow, restricted process — carries the risk of leaving many Thai citizens feeling that they’ve been excluded from the political process.

That’s the reason why we continue to advocate for a broader and more inclusive political process that allows all sectors of society to feel represented, to feel that their voices are being heard. I’d add that the perception of fairness is also extremely important and although this is being pretty blunt, when an elected leader is removed from office, is deposed, then impeached by the authorities — the same authorities that conducted the coup — and then when a political leader is targeted with criminal charges at a time when the basic democratic processes and institutions in the country are interrupted, the international community is going to be left with the impression that these steps could in fact be politically driven.

And that’s why we hope to see a process that reinforces the confidence of the Thai people in their government and their judicial institutions and builds confidence internationally that Thailand is moving towards stable and participatory democracy.

Ending martial law throughout the country and removing restrictions of speech and assembly – these would be important steps as part of a generally inclusive reform process that reflects the broad diversity of views within the country. And we hope that the results of that process will be stable democratic institutions that reflect and respond to the will of the Thai people.

So the message that I’m bringing to all of the people that I’m meeting with today and to you, to the Thai nation, is the same: for the United States, Thailand is a valued friend and important ally. Thailand is a country with whom we’ve got a long-standing history of broad cooperation on the range of issues that I’ve outlined, issues that are important not just to our two countries but to the region and to the globe.

We care deeply about this relationship.

We care deeply about our friendship with all the Thai people.

And we care deeply about Thailand’s prospects for success, and we wish you well.

Let me stop there, and with Professor Thitinan, let me try to respond to some of your questions. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Good afternoon Mr. Assistant Secretary. I am Wasit Bantong from Thammasat University and my question is, in your opinion, what are the skills needed in the 21st century for young people because in our generation I believe that we are going to face several challenges including climate changes and cyberterrorism and these kind of things. Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well thank you. What I tell young students and officers who join the State Department and join the Foreign Service is that the number one most important attribute, the most important thing to have to succeed is passion. Now, you could argue that that’s not a skill. But what distinguishes people who are truly successful, I believe, is that they are doing something that they believe in, something that’s important, and something that they love. It is certainly my experience that people who have a passion get good at what they’re doing, and people who are good at what they’re doing have a lot of fun. Now, more specifically, I think that in Southeast Asia which is increasingly well-wired electronically thanks to the IT revolution, it goes without saying that the ability to master social media and high-tech platforms is essential. Language skills are a major asset, and of course English is very much the language of commerce and diplomacy. The United States has strongly supported English-language training programs throughout Southeast Asia. I think it gives students – young people in this region – competitive advantage to be functional in English. I also believe that gaining a perspective on one’s own country and own society comes most easily when you leave it. It was true for me – it’s true for many people – that you don’t necessarily understand or appreciate your own country and your own culture until you have seen it from a distance. And while I recognize that it can be expensive and it’s not always easy – even if you’re not going far – I see great value in having some experience living in another culture and seeing your own society through someone else’s eyes. Thanks.

QUESTION: Hi. Good afternoon. My name is Caitlin Stark-Bonmeyers (sp?), and I am visiting PhD student here at Chula from Purdue University and I’ve spent the last three years living in Asia Pacific, in Japan and now here, and as an America I get asked a lot of questions about American foreign policy and politics and things like that. When you live abroad you’re kind of the representative of your country. And a question we get asked a lot is, Why…(pause). So you talk a lot about bringing democracy to other countries, and a lot of people think that for some countries, democracy isn’t right for everyone. So I don’t have the answer when people ask me that and I was wondering what your take is.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Thank you. If everyone heard, the question is what makes America so sure that democracy is right for everyone. Well, first of all, there’s a wonderful and famous saying attributed to Winston Churchill that goes something like — “Democracy is the worst system of government, except for all the others.”

Boiled down to its essence, although there are many forms of democratic government and there will always be debates about the extent to which elections mean democracy, you can’t go anywhere on Earth and show me a citizen of a country who says “my voice doesn’t matter”, “I don’t care about the future of my family, or my village, or my town, or my county, or my country”. Everyone — every citizen — has a voice and those voices should be heard. Now, there has to be compromise and there has to be order and law. But democracy and the rule of law go hand in hand.

There’s another saying that “Power corrupts.” And the great strength in my view of democracy is that it forces societies or allows societies to build institutions — institutions that will regulate the behavior of citizens according to compromise, not according to absolute principles. Abraham Lincoln was famous for saying in the heat of the Civil War that we should dedicate ourselves to government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Democracy is imperfect, but it gives a voice to all of its citizens. It builds institutions that defend the weak, and it has a resilience and a self-correcting mechanism to it that allows the voters to decide that they’ve had enough, to make their views known, and to take a different tack when there is consensus among the majority. That would be my answer. Thank you.

QUESTION: My name is Nor Fahm and I work for the BBC. Last week at the dialogue in Manila, you and the Philippine counterpart said a lot about the South China Sea, and after that the Chinese spokeswoman said that the third party countries should not get involved and should not instigate tension in the Sea. What is your reply to that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, I have regular and very constructive dialogues with my Chinese counterparts as does, of course, Secretary Kerry and as does President Obama. And we have been clear and consistent in conveying to the Chinese the area where we are neutral, and the areas where we take a position with regard to territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

The United States isn’t taking one country’s side against another when it comes to the matter of how the dispute over sovereignty will ultimately be resolved. We fully agree that that is an issue that should be resolved among the claimants themselves. But we believe strongly that it should be resolved peacefully and through diplomatic means. Where we do take positions, however, is on matters of international law and international rights such as freedom of navigation, freedom of overflight, the right to unimpeded commerce.

We oppose unilateral actions that aim to advance a claim by changing the status quo or coercing or threatening another country or claimant. That’s a principle that the United States will always support, and I believe that Thailand and other countries in the region support and value that same principle.

So our encouragement of the parties to exercise self-restraint, to apply the golden rule of not doing things to each other that they don’t want done to them, our advocacy of the principle that universal principles and law apply equally to big countries and to small, and our push for constructive, peaceful management of disputes is by no means interference. That is part of our contribution to the stability and the security of the Asia-Pacific region that, among other things, has been instrumental in China’s extraordinary growth.

QUESTION: Good afternoon. My name is Boontida, I am a fourth year student from Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, majoring in International Relations. In our studies, we have been reading a lot about the retreat of democracy and the upsurge of the authoritarian rule. So in our region here, it is a mix between the two. We have more or less democracy, or even none at all. So I would like to ask your opinion about the outlook of democratization in Southeast Asia, with special reference to Thailand and Myanmar.

QUESTION: A privilege [to be here] because I was alumni of Chula too. My question is about Thailand. You have been talking about the “un-necessity” of martial law. You have been talking about compromise and the rule of law. And I guess that you also talked to Foreign Minister this morning too. So I would like to hear how he responded to these issues. And how do you measure so far, from left to right, where we are standing now? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well let me start with the specific question and then go more broadly to the issue of the advance and retreat of democracy in Southeast Asia. I will leave it for the Deputy Prime Minister/Interim Foreign Minister to speak for himself. It’s a well-established diplomatic principle that one does not either disclose details of a diplomatic conversation, but certainly one does not speak for the other side.

I have no hesitation, though, in telling you that I think that I got a serious hearing. I came to Thailand on behalf of my government, both to listen — listen to the government, listen to the political leaders, listen to civil society, and listen to you — but also to convey our views and our hopes for Thailand. And I said to the Foreign Minister as I have said to the political leaders and to you today in the speech that the United States has a huge interest in Thailand’s success.

A strong, economically thriving, influential, politically-stable Thailand is an essential element of a thriving and growing region. We believe that the curtailment of civil rights, the restrictions on universal rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, don’t in the long run contribute to stability.

We believe that taking steps soon to end martial law, to allow for legitimate and peaceful voicing of views, and to promote an inclusive process in which all sectors of society feel that they have had a hearing, will generate institutions and outcomes in which all members of society, all sectors of society believe that they have a stake.

And it’s important for all citizens to have a stake in the political process and for them to have respect and trust in the political and the judicial institutions. Now that brings me to the broader question. There is no on and off switch that takes you to democracy in one step.

Democracy is about allowing the citizens actively to participate in shaping the decisions and the future of their own country. It’s a tough job and all of us are constantly seeking to refine and improve our systems. No system is perfect, certainly not the system we have in the United States. But the push for democracy, the push for justice, the push for accountability, the push for equality doesn’t come out of a textbook. It comes out of people’s hearts. It comes out of people’s belief and conviction that they can create a better life and a better system for their families and for their children.

I believe that the push for justice and for democracy is inexorable, that it is unstoppable. There are obstacles, there are setbacks, but that fundamental quest for opportunity and that fundamental sense of justice is universal, not an American value, not an Asian value.

Now in the case of Myanmar, after 40+ years of authoritarian rule, we have seen an extraordinary process of economic and political reform. It’s been dramatic and it’s been difficult. There are still significant challenges ahead. But I don’t believe that the citizens of Myanmar, who have experienced access to communications, who have found new opportunities, who have been able to voice and make common cause with like-minded neighbors and friends, I don’t think they are willing to go backwards. I don’t think that they want to retreat, and it is both an opportunity and a responsibility for the international community, for Myanmar’s neighbors, and for partners like the United States to help them to succeed.

QUESTION: I believe that General Tanasak has briefed you on measures taken by the government to fight human trafficking so I’d like to know if you could assess these measures and hear your recommendations as well. Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you very much Daniel Russel. I have two questions. Can you tell me, apart from Cobra Gold, what are the new activities you plan for Thai and U.S. Secondly, when the new Ambassador is coming to Bangkok? Thank you.

QUESTION: About this time last year, your Ambassador in Myanmar said that there was a target to delist at least one person from the sanctions list in Myanmar. One year on, there has been no progress along that. Is that an administrative issue, or does that reflect a change in policy towards Myanmar due to the violence in Rakhine State? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: I’m here as I said to listen and to communicate. The United States uses our Embassy to do the same thing on a day to day basis. That diplomatic engagement is critically important for us, particularly in an important country like Thailand. Now we’re blessed to have a very distinguished Chargé d’affaires Patrick Murphy and a really first-class Embassy team. Trust me that there are a lot of officers who beg to be posted to Bangkok.

It’s also not unusual to have a gap of a few months in our system between the departure of the U.S. Ambassador and the arrival of his or her successor. We are working and know that the White House, when they can, will announce the appointment of a new Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand in order to continue our work.

On that regard, with respect to trafficking in persons, this is one of the many areas including law enforcement, counterterrorism, global health, trade and investment and so on where important work continues at the working level, at technical levels, because this is very much in the best interest of both countries and essential to the region. The scourge, the tragedy of human trafficking is one that cannot be ignored.

We are mindful of and appreciative of the commitments and the pledges made by the interim government with respect to trafficking — that includes the sexual trafficking of women, trafficking of labor in industry, etc. What we are seeking to do is to, in partnership, generate more measurable progress and real results. This is a topic of ongoing conversation between us in an area where we think it’s important to achieve further progress.

Cobra Gold is a regional, multi-national exercise involving not only the U.S. and Thailand but many of our important neighbors including now India, including China, and it is this year re-calibrated and scaled appropriately in the wake of the political events here. But it is proceeding and it is focused on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, which are top priorities for all of us. I don’t have anything further to announce in terms of U.S.-Thailand events or programs.

And lastly on the issue of U.S. sanctions in Myanmar, whether it is in Myanmar or elsewhere in the world, the sanctions and including the SDN — the Special Designated Nationals list — that identifies individuals who stand in violation of important laws, we add people when the information presents itself and we remove people from the list when we are able to document behavior that warrants it.

We believe that showing how to get off the list, what kind of behavior constitutes a path to redemption, is a very powerful and positive device in encouraging reform in Myanmar as well as elsewhere. And so we’re committed to the principle of delisting — it’s a matter of making an assessment and having the appropriate authorities concur with that judgment.

QUESTION: Good afternoon Mr. Russel. I am Patriya from Chulalongkorn University. I’m studying fourth year student, political science. Over the last few years, we have been hearing about the U.S. engagement in Asia. But recently, with much going on around the world and the U.S. involvement in, for example, in the Ukraine and in the Middle East. So is the U.S. still committed to its pivot to Asia and rebalance policies? Is it still on? Can you convince us?

QUESTION: I actually been studying in the United States for my undergraduate degree. One of the things I experienced is that people with disabilities actually get more chances at education and as well at equality. There is not much here. So do you think is it possible for the United States to have engagement on that? Because as you said in your speech, there is actually a lot of things you do to actually improve the lives of people. But you have never mentioned about people with disabilities. Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Thank you very much, great question. Let me start there. First of all, sharing our experiences and encouraging progress on civic programs, for example, to assist and to fight discrimination against people with disabilities, or for that matter, discrimination on the basis of sexual preference, or for that matter on the basis of gender, is a top priority for the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, as it is elsewhere. And the State Department is active, as is the White House.

We have a special envoy on disabilities. We have a special envoy on women’s empowerment. And these are programs that are integrated in our diplomatic efforts. I don’t want to sound just like a cheerleader for democracy, but the fact of the matter is that the reason that the U.S. government spends time, energy, and money in promoting these programs, in raising awareness, in sharing our know-how and expertise, and encouraging the development of good programs worldwide is because it’s important to our citizens.

This has been a grassroots movement and it’s a place where government has been responsive to what people want and what people care about. And as I said earlier, what people want is a fair chance. People want an opportunity. People want respect. People want justice. And according opportunities and justice to people that are different than us, people with disabilities, people from ethnic minorities, women, or LGBT folks, is not only worthwhile but an important objective.

More broadly with regard to the engagement in the Asia-Pacific by the United States against the backdrop of tremendous challenges and crises, not only in the Middle East where they are pretty formidable, but also in Africa, for example, which is facing terrible threats from Boko Haram and fundamentalist groups on the one hand, and infectious disease like Ebola on the other. The pursuit of our interests as the United States forces us to deal with these crises. We have no choice. That’s why Secretary Kerry has just gone to the Middle East and gone to Africa. That’s why President Obama is on his way soon to Saudi Arabia.

But what keeps us engaged in Asia — and I think that the simplest and clearest answer to whether you can believe in our continued engagement — is the fact that it is in America’s national interest. The East Asia region is the most dynamic, economically-thriving part of the world. We want to be part of it. We are part of it. The demographics, the youth figures, and the growth of the middle class in Southeast Asia is extraordinary.

We want to get to know you. We want to work with you. We want to study with you. We want to trade with you. This is essential to our economic security as well as our broader security interests. So it’s not because America is generous. It’s not as a passing fancy. It’s not because we’re afraid of China. It’s because America is a Pacific nation whose economic and security interests are so closely tied with your future and your decisions that we need to be part of your life.

And I would say that if you look at the number of times that President Obama has visited Asia, that Vice President Biden has visited Asia, that Secretary Kerry has visited Asia, you would see the evidence of how high a priority the U.S. government places on our relationships throughout this region. Thank you.

East Asia and the Pacific: Remarks to the Business Council for International Understanding

As prepared for delivery

Thank, Richard, you for the introduction. It’s great to be here at the Business Council for International Understanding. Your organization is a great supporter of shared prosperity – helping to promote wise policies that create jobs and opportunities both here at home, and for America’s partners and friends around the world. And the individual companies you represent are leaders in fields from health care, to food, to banking and more.

Prosperity and security are inseparable

My portfolio covers the full range of American interests in the Asia-Pacific – namely implementing President Obama’s “rebalance” policy of increased engagement and attention to the region. So while I don’t focus exclusively on economics, as Secretary Kerry says, every Foreign Service Officer is an economics officer.

You understand the importance of America’s commercial relations with the East Asia-Pacific region, which has over half a billion middle class consumers and accounts for $1.4 trillion in trade with the U.S.

You’re here because you understand that America’s prosperity and Asia’s prosperity are inseparable.

You also understand that our shared prosperity and shared security are just as tightly linked. And that’s why I’m here.

The most important thing we can do for U.S.-Asia relations this year, for both prosperity and security, is completing the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. And I’m here to ask for your help. But first, a little background.

Diplomacy and prosperity have enabled each other throughout the Obama administration. Just a few examples:

The global financial crisis of 2008 was the worst global downturn since the Great Depression. Perhaps the decisive difference between the 1930s and this time was that international cooperation in the last six years helped to avoid worst effects. Coordinated action through the G-20 was essential. We’ve also acted to enhance prosperity through our leadership in APEC, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. And we’ve supported ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is driving economic integration at the sub-regional level.

America’s alliances and partnerships guarantee security within the region, as they have for seven decades. And they have supported growing economic relationships with many countries – trade nearly doubling in the last decade under our FTA with Australia, implementation of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, our Open Skies agreement to liberalize air travel with Japan, and more.

Our work with Asia also supports security and prosperity beyond the region, as we jointly tackle global issues such as climate change, violent extremism now including ISIL, and infectious disease now including Ebola. The economic consequences of all these threats have been clear for many years: the increased costs of natural disasters; the Bali bombings and their devastating effect on tourism; the disruptions to business and travel from SARS. East Asia learned from all these past incidents, and the region’s smart contributions to address today’s global crises helps us reduce the impact of bad disruptions to the regional and global economies.

These are all areas of government-to-government cooperation, but there’s also a huge role for the private sector to play. Businesses like yours are essential to building resilient global supply chains that serve consumers, and also help provide relief in emergencies and support long-term recovery.

Now, let me focus for a bit on what we’ve done recently to support business with one particular country that I know you’re interested in: China. Our diplomacy with China has allowed us to expand the areas where we work together, while managing our clear differences. And that diplomacy over many years, including bringing China into the WTO, has supported China’s economic rise, enabling trade and increased exports to China. In 2014 alone, we made important progress in at least five specific ways:

Let’s start with the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meetings in Chicago. There, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman made great progress in getting China to open to imports of U.S. biotech corn and soy; medical devices and pharmaceuticals; and fair treatment of U.S. businesses facing the competition regulators.

Second, at the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, our biggest bilateral annual gathering held over the summer in Beijing, we intensified negotiations on a Bilateral Investment Treaty. The “negative” list is next, and we’re insisting that it be very high quality – narrowly tailored and widely open to foreign investment, especially since our openness to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has allowed new Chinese FDI into the U.S. to surpass our FDI in China.

Third, during President Obama’s trip to Beijing, we reached a key agreement to expand visa validity for business visitors to ten years, a boon for our tourism industry and a win for our companies with interests in China. We also achieved an important bilateral understanding to help the WTO’s International Technology Agreement move forward. We subsequently suffered a setback and there’s still a lot of work to do, but we remain hopeful.

Fourth, our landmark climate progress, also during the trip, is important for long-term public health, and economic health, and it supports the green economy.

That’s 2014. So what’s next, not just with China, but with the entire region? The United States will continue to, one, underwrite regional security; and two, advocate for American business.

We are watching general security and economic conditions that could affect U.S.-Asia-Pacific commercial relations in 2015.

There’s the continuing risk of tensions in the South China Sea. Diplomacy in this area is “a work in progress.” It’s calm on the surface, but militarization and reclamation of disputed outposts and other drivers of tension remain. ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, has floated ideas to manage the tensions and we’ll remain strongly supportive of these diplomatic efforts, such as establishing a binding Code of Conduct sooner rather than later. We raise concerns over tensions on these issues at the highest levels, including with Chinese leaders.

In a welcome development, China and Japan have said they’ll implement crisis management mechanisms and restore relations. Substantive follow-through to these diplomatic steps will be essential for the region to reap the fruits of rapprochement between these two economic powerhouses.

We’ll continue to push for respect for universal rights and freedoms, which are essential for prosperity in places like Burma, Cambodia, and of course, China. They are essential everywhere.

And we will continue our vigilant and active diplomacy with our five-party partners on North Korea. We had a big 2014 in terms of spotlighting the North’s human rights abuses. We continue to make clear that North Korea will not achieve the security and prosperity it claims to want while it pursues banned nuclear weapons and missile programs. And we’re increasingly vigilant against the North’s offensive cyber programs.

We are working actively to ensure that a stable security environment underwrites economic growth for the Asia-Pacific, instead of instability threatening progress. No country can provide the public good of regional security in the way the United States can.

Now, to business. At the top of our business agenda for 2015 is the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this uncertain political environment, and with growth flat in the EU and slowing in China, the importance of the TPP could not be clearer – it is central to the rebalance.

It will strengthen America’s role as one of the most competitive, most innovative economies in the world, as well as one of the biggest trading partners, and source and destination of foreign investment in the region. TPP will be a big boost to the U.S. economy, advancing President Obama’s top priority of creating good jobs in America. Exports already account for over 11 million jobs, and have contributed nearly a third of U.S. growth in recent years. By expanding access to some of the largest and most dynamic economies in the world, TPP will make those numbers even stronger, including for New York.

Some 977,000 New York jobs are supported by trade with the TPP region. Those workers – many of them at your companies – are exporting nearly $15 billion in services and nearly $18 billion in goods.

Just as important, a high-quality TPP will strengthen our partner economies – other regional economies that share the priority we place on labor, environmental, and intellectual property standards, and on fair competition. Every decade or two, our economic model is challenged, and we must renew it and advocate for it. History didn’t end 25 years ago.

In short: We need TPP to strengthen growth and create jobs and to advance our values and show that our ongoing commitment to the region extends beyond security. This is important to long-time allies like Australia, with whom we’ve had an FTA for a decade now. It’s important to Japan as PM Abe works on structural reforms, the “third arrow” of his domestic economic recovery program. And it’s important to newer partners like Vietnam; 2015 marks 20 years of normalized relations, and TPP will take us to the next level, driving labor reforms and reducing its economic dependence on China.

And as a regional platform, TPP is also important to those regional economies that are not yet part of it, because the promise of open markets and high standards can propel reforms that will enhance the competitiveness of future TPP candidates in the entire Asia-Pacific economy, as well as in the supply and value chains that operate throughout the region.

Our negotiators have made a lot of progress on the talks in recent months, and we believe the end of the negotiations is coming into focus. And when it’s time to go to Congress, we’ll need a broad range of support to help get TPP, and the supporting tool of Trade Promotion Authority, passed.

As we pursue TPP, we’re also working with the countries outside that group, including the world’s second largest economy: China. We’re working on the BIT, as I mentioned, and pushing for fair application of their competition laws and trade enforcement.

That’s a lot of business-related diplomacy, and we haven’t even gotten to the rest of the region, which includes partners like Taiwan and Indonesia. Taiwan is our 10th largest trading partner, and a great example of an economy that has flourished with our security support.

Indonesia is a country with enormous potential. U.S. companies have invested $65 billion there in the last eight years, and the new President, Jokowi, has a business background and is off to a quick start. His interest in improving infrastructure and education should provide substantial opportunities for foreign investment in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

In Indonesia, and across the region, there’s a lot of interest in business and investment. And the quality of the investments matters. You are among the best advocates for American values. As we work for you, we appreciate the way you practice the ideals that support sustained success – investing in the workforce through training, and in communities and infrastructure; planning for long term sustainability and environmental protection; avoiding corrupt practices. These are some of the reasons American businesses are often the preferred partner for countries and local businesses across the region.

Take Burma. Our rapprochement has resulted in remarkably rapid market opening since 2012. GE, a storied New York company, is helping modernize Burma’s national airline fleet and power grid, and investing $3 million in public health. Pepsi is working on vocational training and exploring agriculture investments.

Coca-Cola has invested $200 million and is working to economically empower Burmese women. Coke also won the State Department’s Award for Corporate Excellence last year for providing disaster relief to the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan. And there are many more examples of companies ploughing a portion of their profits back into corporate social responsibility activities across the region. This year, we intend to explore how APEC might help expand the practice of CSR to promote more inclusive economic growth in the region.

I believe the United States and the Asia-Pacific region will continue to grow and prosper together, but it depends on wise leadership – in both our political and commercial capitals here and in the region. And it depends on you, the business community, continuing to make and strengthen your connections with businesses and people across the Pacific. Thank you.

Speeches: Fragile States, Vulnerable People: The Human Trafficking Dimension

(As Prepared for Delivery)

Good evening and thank you, Sarah, for this opportunity to sit down with you and members of the Human Rights Initiative to discuss human trafficking. It is apposite to be here at CSIS because trafficking touches on so many elements of our foreign and security policy and CSIS has long been home to a multi-dimensional understanding of international security. It is a real honor to be in a room full of trafficking experts, people who have been a central part of this extraordinary movement to protect human rights. My thoughts are shaped by my role as “J” – the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, who supports the work of the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons (or TIP) Office. My goal is to offer my perspective on how far we have come in a fight in which the State Department and entire Administration are working hard. I also want to discuss what I see as the next layer of challenges facing those committed to ending human slavery.

President Obama has again proclaimed January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month. 2015 as a year is important because it marks the 15th anniversary of both our anti-trafficking legislation, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (or TVPA), as well as the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, which is known as the Palermo Protocol.

Normatively, we have come a long way in the past 15 years: 166 states are now party to the Palermo Protocol. Human trafficking has moved from a misunderstood, secondary issue to an international priority regularly raised by the highest officials and leaders throughout the world, including President Obama and the current Pope. Practically, more than one hundred countries have passed anti-trafficking laws, and many have established specialized law enforcement units, set up trafficking victim assistance mechanisms, and launched public awareness campaigns aimed at combating this worldwide crime. And yet, we have a considerable way to go before human trafficking is eradicated around the world.

Congress and the American people also have much of which to be proud. The TVPA – and the annual State Department Trafficking in Persons or TIP Report it mandates – have played a major role in raising global awareness of human trafficking and galvanizing international action to address both labor and sex trafficking crimes. The Report analyzes the efforts of 188 countries and territories – including the United States – to confront this global scourge.

Fueled by the dedication of the team in the State Department’s TIP Office, as well as officers at every U.S. mission around the world, the TIP Report plays an important role in confronting this lucrative transnational crime. Secretary Kerry calls it “a gold standard in assessing how well governments – including our own – are meeting that responsibility” of confronting human trafficking.

As many of you know, the TVPA lays out a set of criteria by which the State Department assesses foreign government responses to human trafficking. Countries and territories are ranked by tiers based on their compliance with these standards enumerated in the law. The report not only provides an annual snapshot of the problem, but also, through its rankings and its associated sanctions regime and norm-setting, helps hold governments accountable in their efforts to fight human trafficking. It motivates governments to develop policies and structures to fight this serious crime. Researchers have documented the impact of the Report on states’ responses to trafficking, including the correlation between tier ranking downgrades and subsequent enactment of anti-trafficking legislation.

The TIP Report also provides a list of specific recommendations for how each country and territory can better prevent this crime, prosecute its perpetrators and assist its victims. These recommendations are the heart of the Report. They guide U.S. diplomacy and engagement on human trafficking issues – both publicly and privately. They serve as a roadmap to better address the problem – not for the sake of improving a tier ranking, but rather for making institutional changes that will put additional traffickers behind bars, help victims get assistance, and prevent the vulnerable from being exploited.

The State Department’s TIP Office has increasingly sought to combine TIP diplomacy with complementary programming to help countries achieve results. For example, last year the TIP Office funded Free the Slaves, the International Association for Women Judges, and the Warnath Group to help Haiti enact a strong anti-trafficking law and initiate its first trafficking prosecution. These efforts are especially significant given Haiti’s chronically weak institutions and ongoing political deadlock over the scheduling of overdue local and legislative elections.

In Burma, three years of intensified diplomatic engagement has galvanized significant anti-trafficking reforms, including the repeal in 2012 of two British-era laws that explicitly allowed officials to subject citizenry to forced labor, and the enactment of a new law prohibiting all forms of forced labor. President Obama’s historic trip to Burma in 2012 saw the forging of the “first of its kind” U.S. – Myanmar Joint Plan on Trafficking in Persons, and the initiation of a standalone bilateral TIP dialogue between our two countries. We continue to work closely with the Burmese government to support implementation of its laws and tangible steps to address long-standing human trafficking issues.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, USAID is supporting an assessment to measure the scope and nature of human trafficking in the artisanal mining industry in South Kivu and Katanga provinces. The results will inform the design and implementation of a new program to combat trafficking and labor exploitation in the Congo’s mining sector. In Nigeria, USAID is providing psycho-social counseling and healing for women and young girls abducted by Boko Haram from Chibok, Borno State. A Training of Trainers program teaches local Christian and Muslim women to use their capacity and skills to help traumatized individuals from Chibok and the wider communities.

As Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, almost every issue I touch has implications for human trafficking. Whether working with the Bureau of Counterterrorism (CT); Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL); Population, Migration and Refugees (PRM); International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL); Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO); or other offices in J, so often there is a trafficking angle. This highlights something we live at J – the reality that security and human rights are closely interwoven and that promoting security is often a key means of supporting human rights. Crises often cause a spike in trafficking as people are displaced, lose income sources, and seek security for themselves and their families. The breakdown of social and government structures leave populations vulnerable as protections are reduced and options for recourse disappear.

While human trafficking is a problem in every country, we have seen how traffickers take advantage of conflict, the collapse of state institutions, allied criminal networks, and even natural disasters to prey on and exploit vulnerable civilians. Pope Francis highlighted this connection in his recent World Day of Peace message. As he said, “Further causes of slavery include armed conflicts, violence, criminal activity and terrorism. Many people are kidnapped in order to be sold, enlisted as combatants, or sexually exploited, while others are forced to emigrate, leaving everything behind: their country, home, property, and even members of their family.”

Terrorism’s nexus to trafficking is not new – the so-called language schools that sex traffickers used as visa mills were the institutes that provided visa paperwork to the 9/11 hijackers – but the connection between terrorism and trafficking has been brought to the fore by ISIL and Boko Haram. These groups have proudly professed practicing slavery, justifying their actions with a perverse interpretation of Islam. In early December, ISIL even published a list of rules on how female slaves, both adults and children, should be treated once captured. This pamphlet instructs that it is “permissible” to have sexual intercourse with, beat, and trade non-Muslim slaves, including young girls. In my meetings with Yezidi leaders, I have seen firsthand the psychologically devastating effect of knowledge that a close relative is being enslaved.

Fortunately, when governments are prepared and strong enough to confront traffickers, vulnerabilities can be reduced. The 2013 Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines left large segments of the populations vulnerable to traffickers. The Philippine government’s previous investments in addressing human trafficking enabled it to quickly react. It immediately cooperated closely with international and local NGOs to provide security and screening checkpoints at evacuation centers, in tent cities, and at major transportation hubs; these preventative measures helped to protect vulnerable populations as they migrated en masse to other parts of the country and resettled in temporary shelters or private residences. On-going activities to raise awareness and prevent human trafficking among those communities affected by the typhoon continue through TIP Office funds to the International Organization for Migration.

In the fight against human trafficking, I see enormous value in looking at the challenge from a more holistic foreign policy perspective. In the “J” Under Secretariat, where we look at foreign policy through the lens of people – not simply through the lens of states – international instability and state weakness are coming into focus as the next phase of the struggle against human slavery.

The reality is that we need peace and we need effective states to win this fight. This is the State Department and USAID’s core work. The U.S. government works diligently to prevent and stabilize conflicts, and, where it cannot, to help refugees and the internally displaced. These activities are not always recognized as part of a comprehensive approach to fight human trafficking but without them, more tailored interventions will not be sustainable.

In Jordan, USAID integrated counter-trafficking activities into a broader human rights program combating sexual and gender based violence, early marriage, and child labor among Syrian refugees and host communities affected by the Syrian crisis. With State Department funding, the International Centre for Migration Policy Development is assessing the impact of the Syrian war on trafficking in persons in Syria and the surrounding region (Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey). This information informs our humanitarian assistance at a time in which, according to UNHCR, more people were forcibly displaced – as refugees, asylum-seekers, and internally displaced people – than at any time since World War II.

Even where states are not directly challenged by conflict, they may still be fragile and corrupt or simply poor and weak. But all our normative progress against slavery matters little when states cannot uphold their laws. Where the U.S., foreign partners, and civil society can help address state weakness, we can provide a more stable and effective platform for protecting citizens. Poor enforcement of labor laws, discrimination, and restrictions on freedom of association and on other human rights and labor rights leaves many workers at risk of exploitation, including trafficking.

This is where the rest of “J” comes in. The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor promotes internationally-recognized labor rights, including for migrant workers, as part of its core mandate. The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs has some of the Department’s strongest tools for strengthening rule of law and helping governments prevent and combat corruption. Its anti-corruption and law enforcement programming provides training to law enforcement officers and the judiciary on investigating human trafficking and corruption cases. Border control is another state function critical for anti-trafficking work and INL and our Counterterrorism Bureau are active there too.

Interagency training at U.S. missions overseas, including Brazil, Cambodia, the Philippines, Togo, and Hong Kong, has enabled State Department, DHS, and FBI agents to pursue domestic trafficking cases through international cooperation and engagement in foreign countries. Our agencies have trained more than 1,700 law enforcement and consular officers, as well as locally employed staff, at overseas posts.

And finally I would just say that since the crimes of enslavement and sexual slavery may in certain circumstances constitute crimes against humanity or war crimes, our Office of Global Criminal Justice works to deter those crimes in ongoing conflicts across the globe by promoting documentation, advocating early implementation of judicial mechanisms, and – once tribunals have been established – working with those bodies to make sure those who have committed atrocity crimes are brought to justice.

This is just the “J” Under Secretariat’s part in a huge and comprehensive line of effort.

For the last 15 years, the United States and our partners have led efforts to end this crime. We will continue to do so in the wake of evolving threats. Our work is cut out for us. Respect for human rights, domestic and international rule of law, strong democratic institutions, and partnerships with civil society are keys to not only to preventing political crises but also to enabling the state to act quickly and efficiently when they occur.

In my recent trip to India, I had the opportunity to meet with Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi, who has dedicated his life to ending child labor and working with young victims of trafficking. In his acceptance speech in Oslo, Kailash stated, “I refuse to accept that all the temples and mosques and churches and prayer houses have no place for the dreams of our children. I refuse to accept that the world is so poor, when just one week of global military expenditure can bring all our children into classrooms. I refuse to accept that all the laws and constitutions, and judges and police are not able to protect our children. I refuse to accept that the shackles of slavery can ever be stronger than the quest for freedom. I REFUSE TO ACCEPT.”

Americans and their government also refuse to accept. And this is not simply a question of decency but also a matter of self-interest. In working for justice, we will not only begin to eradicate human trafficking, but also make the world a safer and ultimately more prosperous place.

Thank you.

Government of Canada announces appointment of additional Social Security Tribunal members

November 27, 2014 – Gatineau, Quebec – Employment and Social Development

The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, announced today the appointment of two full-time members and 22 part-time members to the Social Security Tribunal (SST).

Aidan B. Beresford and Brisette Lucas were appointed as full-time members.

Lan An, Ramon Andal, Barry David Barnes, Michael Beauchesne, Angela Ryan Bourgeois, Anne Clark, Judy Daniels, Verlyn F. Francis, Jason Glover, W. Jeff Honey, Shawnessy Johnson, Jackie Laidlaw, Leonard R. Lyn, Nicole Mondou, Catherine Patterson, Mathieu Picard, Adam T. Picotte, John F. L. Rose, Anna Truong, Pierre M. Vanderhout, Jane Wong and Nicole I. Zwiers were appointed as part-time members.

All appointees were selected from a pool of qualified candidates after passing a rigorous, merit-based selection process that includes a public notice of vacancy, pre-screening of applications, written assessments, interview with a panel and reference checks.

The SST began its operations on April 1, 2013.

For more information on the SST, visit www.canada.ca/sst-tss.

Quick facts

  • The SST is a single decision-making body that consolidates the work previously done by four separate tribunals. It simplifies the appeal processes for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Old Age Security (OAS) and Employment Insurance (EI) with a single point of contact, while providing greater value for Canadians.
  • The SST is comprised of two levels of appeal. The General Division, the first level, includes two sections: an EI section for EI appeals and an Income Security section for CPP and OAS appeals. The Appeal Division is the second level.

Quote

“The members and staff of the Social Security Tribunal are implementing simplified, efficient and effective appeal processes that will improve administrative justice for Canadians.These 24 new members bring a wide variety of professional experience, education and exemplary leadership skills, making them excellent additions to the Social Security Tribunal.”

– The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism

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Contacts

Alexandra Fortier
Office of Minister Kenney
819-994-2482

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
819-994-5559
media@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca
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Backgrounder

Social Security Tribunal

Announced in Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2012, the new Social Security Tribunal (SST) replaces the four separate tribunals for social security appeals. It is an administrative tribunal with quasi-judicial powers and provides fair, credible, impartial and independent appeal processes for government decisions on Employment Insurance (EI), the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS).

The new tribunal system simplifies and streamlines the process for appellants by providing them with a single decision-making body for EI, CPP and OAS appeals. The SST is led by a chairperson and three vice-chairpersons appointed by the Governor in Council. The SST comprises two levels of appeal. For the first level of appeal, a vice-chairperson heads each of the EI and Income Security (CPP and OAS) sections of the General Division. The third vice-chairperson heads the Appeal Division, which is the second level of appeal. The Appeal Division decides appeals of decisions made by the General Division.

On March 12, 2013, Ms. Murielle Brazeau was appointed to the role of Chairperson of the SST, and 72 full-time members and 22 part-time members have been appointed by the Governor in Council. Members have been appointed from all regions of the country to ensure fairness and regional distribution

Members of the SST are expected to maintain the public trust and avoid any conflicts of interest. These members are also supported by advisors with legal and medical expertise and have access to professional training.

For more information on the SST, visit canada.gc.ca/sst-tss.

Newly appointed Social Security Tribunal members

Lan An (Toronto, Ontario)

Ms. An holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Victoria and a Bachelor of Arts (First Class Standing) with a double major in Asian Studies and Philosophy from the University of British Columbia. Ms. An was a law clerk at the Federal Court of Canada. She has worked as an Associate for Brownlee LLP and for Dunlap Law Professional Corporation. She has over six years of experience working for the Government of Canada and is currently a Legal Counsel at Justice Canada. Her appointment came into effect on October 30, 2014.

Ramon Andal (Mississauga, Ontario)

Mr. Andal holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Western Ontario as well as a Bachelor of Laws (Civil Law) from the University of the Philippines. Mr. Andal is currently Sole Practitioner of Andal Law Office. His practice focusses on administrative law, human rights, employment law, health law and insurance litigation, among other areas. He has authored and been a contributing editor to various publications in the field of law. He has also presented at many lectures, seminars and workshops. His appointment came into effect on November 27, 2014. 

Barry David Barnes, MA (Thornhill, Ontario)

Mr. Barnes has a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Education and Applied Social Science and a Master of Arts in Educational Technology. Mr. Barnes was most recently a member of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) and, as such, has adjudicated hundreds of refugee claims. Prior to joining the IRB, Mr. Barnes had a long career in a variety of sectors, including retail, manufacturing, consumer products, construction, banking, academia and consulting. He has worked with organizations such as the Business Development Bank of Canada, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, Imasco, Otis, Lafarge and his own consulting practice, The Crystalpines Group. His appointment came into effect on October 30, 2014.

Michael Beauchesne, MBA (Bracebridge, Ontario)

Mr. Beauchesne obtained a Master of Business Administration from the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business. He also has a certificate in adjudication for administrative agencies, boards and tribunals from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. Mr. Beauchesne’s experience as an adjudicator includes three years as a member of the Parole Board of Canada. His business experience includes senior management roles in corporate operations with the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs and as a director with the Canadian Automobile Association’s largest Ontario club. Mr. Beauchesne, a past member of the Canadian Forces, is an active community volunteer and currently serves as President of the Alzheimer Society of Muskoka’s Board of Directors. His appointment came into effect on October 9, 2014.

Aidan B. Beresford, Q.C. (Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador)

Mr. Beresford holds a Bachelor of Laws from Dalhousie University in Halifax and has completed regular upgrading in Legal Education Courses offered by the Law Society. A member of the Canadian Bar Association since 1982, he currently acts as Commissioner for the Town of Gander. Mr. Beresford has worked as a Legal Member of the Review Tribunal, for which he has written the majority of decisions for hearings. He has also worked as an Adjudicator for the Human Rights Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador, as a lawyer in a private practice and as a sole practitioner for 13 years. His appointment came into effect on November 2, 2014.

Angela Ryan Bourgeois (Amherst, Nova Scotia)

Ms. Bourgeois is currently a partner and lawyer with the law firm of Creighton Shatford. She is a member of the Canadian Bar Association, the Law Society of New Brunswick, Muscular Dystrophy Canada and the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society. She donates her time as a member of the Zonta Club of Amherst Area and the Rotary Club of Amherst. Ms. Bourgeois has a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. She has also completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree with a concentration in Sociology and Anthropology from Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. Her appointment came into effect on October 30, 2014.

Anne Clark (Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia)

Ms. Clark holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. For more than 20 years, Ms. Clark has worked as an advocate, decision maker and senior executive within the public service in Nova Scotia, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. She is also a member in good standing of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society and volunteers with the Canadian Red Cross Disaster Management Team and the Lunenburg County Ground Search and Rescue. Her appointment came into effect on October 30, 2014.

Judy (Jude) Daniels (Canmore, Alberta)

Ms. Daniels has over 17 years of experience working in the oil and gas sector and extensive experience with regulatory matters and the economic, social and environmental effects in Aboriginal communities. She is currently Sole Practitioner of Jude Daniels Law Office. Her practice focusses on negotiation of benefit agreements, child welfare, regulatory law matters and training of Aboriginal Relations and Land Department personnel. Ms. Daniels holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Alberta, a Bachelor of Social Welfare degree from the University of Calgary and a Social Services Worker diploma from Grant MacEwan Community College. Her appointment came into effect on October 9, 2014.

Verlyn F. Francis (Toronto, Ontario)

Ms. Francis holds a Certificate in Adjudication from the Society of Ontario Adjudicators and Regulators and is a certified mediator. She is currently a lawyer at the Law Office of Verlyn F. Francis, a mediator for the Francis Law Centre, an advisor for Environmental and Land Tribunals Ontario and a board member for the Ontario Arts Council. Ms. Francis holds a Bachelor of Laws from the Osgoode Hall Law School of York University and is expected to receive a Master of Laws in 2015, specializing in Alternate Dispute Resolution, from the same institution. Her appointment came into effect on October 30, 2014.

Jason Glover (Toronto, Ontario)

Mr. Glover has a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in History and a minor in Political Science from the University of Toronto. He is currently employed at the Etobicoke Probation Office as a Probation & Parole Officer for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services in Toronto. Mr. Glover was also a Correctional Officer and Police Officer with the Peel Regional Police Service. Mr. Glover donates his time as a volunteer for multiple organizations, including the Ontario Public Service Ambassador Program, the Ontario Justice Education Network, the University of Guelph-Humber, JVS Toronto, the United Way, Federated Health and the Toronto Police Widow and Orphan Fund. His appointment came into effect on October 30, 2014.

W. Jeff Honey (Mono, Ontario)

Mr. Honey holds a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Laws from Osgoode Hall Law School, following undergraduate studies in Psychology from York University. Mr. Honey has been a Sole Practitioner for over 25 years and currently specializes in criminal defence work for both private and legally aided clients. He is also a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada as well as the York Region and Simcoe County Law Associations. His appointment came into effect on October 30, 2014.

Shawnessy Johnson (Toronto, Ontario)

Ms. Johnson has 17 years of professional experience, including business consulting and participation, as a community member on a key Canadian quasi-judicial tribunal. As such, she was responsible for reading, analyzing and evaluating arguments and applying sound judgement to written Reasons for Decision. Ms. Johnson holds a Master of Arts degree in History from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science from Carleton University in Ottawa. Her appointment came into effect on October 30, 2014.

Jackie Laidlaw (Toronto, Ontario)

Ms. Laidlaw is currently a mediator for the Financial Services Commission of Ontario. She is also a coach for certified dispute resolution courses at York University. Ms. Laidlaw has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Philosophy from the University of Western Ontario. She has also obtained a certificate in Private Investigation with Honours and completed the Administrative Tribunals course from Humber College. Her appointment came into effect on October 30, 2014.

Brisette Lucas (Toronto, Ontario)

Ms. Lucas holds a Juris Doctor of Law from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Sciences from Stony Brook University. She was most recently the Vice-President of Government Relations and Policy and Chief Privacy Officer for Electro-Federation Canada, and has previously worked in the field of law and compliance for several companies. She also contributed to the Canada Law Book, published by Thomson Reuters, as a legal writer. Her appointment will come into effect on January 4, 2015.

Leonard R. Lyn, B.A., J.D. (Mississauga, Ontario)

Mr. Lyn has a Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in Philosophy and Crime & Deviance and a minor in Sociology from the University of Toronto. He has also earned a Juris Doctor degree from Osgoode Hall Law School, where he completed the Intensive Program in Poverty Law. Mr. Lyn is currently a partner at Singh Lyn LLP, Barristers & Solicitors. He also donates his time to many organizations, including as Chair of the Mississauga Appeal Tribunal. His appointment came into effect on October 30, 2014.

Nicole Mondou (Ottawa, Ontario)

Ms. Mondou holds a Master’s degree in Taxation from the Université de Sherbrooke and a Civil Law degree from the Université de Montréal. She has also completed courses in common law at the University of Ottawa and the Université de Moncton. A member of the Quebec Bar since 1981, Ms. Mondou has mostly practised in the private sector and is currently on a sabbatical to conduct tax research. She also donates her time as Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee of Optimistic International, East-Ontario District. Her appointment came into effect on October 9, 2014.

Catherine Patterson (London, Ontario)

Ms. Patterson is a partner at Ferguson Patterson Professional Corporation, where she has appeared before numerous tribunals and at all levels of the Ontario Courts. Ms. Patterson has a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Windsor and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of British Columbia. She is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Advocate’s Society and the Middlesex Law Association. Her appointment came into effect on October 30, 2014.

Mathieu Picard (Dieppe, New Brunswick)

Mr. Picard has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a concentration in finance and a Juris Doctor degree from the Université de Moncton. He is currently a lawyer for Fidelis Law Droit, where he represents clients in legal proceedings in both official languages. Mr. Picard is a practising insured member of the New Brunswick Law Society, a member of the Atlantic Provinces Trials Lawyers Association and a member of the Association of French-Speaking Jurists of New Brunswick. Mr. Picard is also a member of the Canadian Bar Association. His appointment came into effect on October 9, 2014.

Adam T. Picotte (Richmond, British Columbia) 

Mr. Picotte holds a Juris Doctorate degree from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and a Bachelor of Arts – Honours from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. He is currently employed as a WCB advocate for the Health Sciences Association of British Columbia, where he provides advice, assistance and representation to injured workers. In addition, he is a member of the British Columbia Law Society, involved in the Canadian Bar Association British Columbia Branch and a legal volunteer to CHIMO Crisis Services in Richmond. His appointment came into effect on October 9, 2014.

John F. L. Rose, B.Ph.Ed., LL.B. (Port McNicoll, Ontario)

Called to the bar in 1996, Mr. Rose has been a Sole Practitioner for over 10 years. His practice focuses on employment, labour, civil and family law. He has appeared in all levels of Ontario courts and many employment and labour law tribunals and was appointed a small claims court deputy judge in 2008. Mr. Rose has a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Western Ontario and a Bachelor of Physical Education from Brock University. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, Canadian Bar Association, Ontario Deputy Judges Association and Simcoe County Family Law Lawyers Association. His appointment came into effect on October 30, 2014.

Anna Truong (Hamilton, Ontario)

Ms. Truong holds a Juris Doctor of Law from the University of Windsor and a Bachelor of Management and Organizational Studies with a specialization in Finance and Administration from the University of Western Ontario. She is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and speaks fluent Vietnamese. Ms. Truong is currently employed as a lawyer at a personal injury law firm in Hamilton, Ontario, and previously worked for a boutique medical malpractice firm in London, Ontario. Her appointment came into effect on October 30, 2014.

Pierre M. Vanderhout (Kingston, Ontario)

Mr. Vanderhout has over 15 years’ experience in law. He worked most recently as a Senior Legal Counsel at the Empire Life Insurance Company in Kingston and previously worked as an associate lawyer at the law firm of Cunningham, Swan, Carty, Little & Bonham LLP. Mr. Vanderhout holds a Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Arts (Mathematics) and Bachelor of Commerce, all from Queen’s University in Kingston. His appointment came into effect on October 9, 2014.

Jane Wong (Vancouver, British Columbia)

Ms. Wong has over 20 years of health care experience spanning clinical pharmacy, health care management and health human resources planning and development. She is currently self-employed working as a pharmacy consultant and relief pharmacist. Ms. Wong holds a Bachelor of Laws from and a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy, both from the University of British Columbia. Among other professional memberships, she is a member of the Canadian Bar Association and a non-practising member of the Law Society of British Columbia. Her appointment came into effect on October 9, 2014.

Nicole I. Zwiers (Whitby, Ontario)

Ms. Zwiers is a full-time law professor with Durham College currently teaching law and ethics and with experience teaching various law courses including administrative law, contract and tort law, business law, marketing law and advocacy. She holds a Bachelor of Laws from Queen’s University Law School in Kingston and a Bachelor in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario. She is also member of the Law Society of Upper Canada. Her appointment came into effect on October 30, 2014.

 

Speeches: The Earthquake of Freedom

Good evening. It is nice to be here at American University, and an honor to have been asked to deliver the inaugural School of Public Affairs Policy Forum lecture. I would like to thank Professor Andrew Kline, the Executive in Residence at American University, for inviting me to speak with you tonight about what President Obama has called one of the great human rights causes of our time – the crime of modern-day slavery.

It is a crime that Secretary of State John Kerry has called the greatest assault on basic freedom. One that must be confronted by empowering survivors to make sure that they are not twice victimized – once by the criminal, and once by the legal system. It is a crime that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton challenged us to see as a scourge that is entrenched, but solvable.

A crime that requires us to look at our own situation domestically, as well as overseas. As Secretary Kerry has said, “If the cries of those who are enslaved around the world today were an earthquake, then the tremors would be felt in every single nation, on every continent, simultaneously.”

Just here in America, it is the cry of a girl from Iowa, wondering if anyone is looking for her or if the next person through the door of that suburban hotel is another client, another man who wants to buy sex and doesn’t care who she is or who she hoped to be. Of a Native American woman, suffering a cycle of violence that communities are only now admitting. It is the cry of the farmworkers, still exploited a generation after Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez. And in a cruel twist, it is the cry of the women and girls who are brought in to serve those same farmworkers by high-volume prostitution rings.

Whether born here or somewhere else, these are – and have always been – American voices – the earthquake that would shake us to our core, if only we do not turn away to a place of comfort.

And we have a responsibility to hear those cries not just at home, but around the world.

In the words of another one of my bosses – Congressman John Conyers – we have a responsibility to confront this crime because of a promise that Dr. King, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, termed a promissory note never cashed. The promise of freedom. A promise written in the blood of all who lived and died in antebellum slavery, and all of those who died to end it.

As Frederick Douglass said while the scars of that war were not yet healed, America has a responsibility not to let it happen again – whether to the newly freed African Americans or easily exploited immigrants who could serve as their replacements if the masters were again allowed a free hand. In other words, he cautioned that we must never take our eye off of those who would exploit, lest their cruelty emerge again in contravention of our American promise of freedom.

Now, before I get too far into the policies, programs, and successes of the last fifteen years – and especially the work of this Administration in delivering on that American promise of freedom, let me address terminology.

I know that some, both at home and abroad, are sometimes critical of this uncomfortable slavery language. As President Obama has said, we do not use this term lightly.

When the federal government’s anti-Peonage Program was changed to be called the Involuntary Servitude and Slavery Program, and when the ISS Program was recast as Trafficking in Persons, the bureaucratic labels may have shifted. New legal tools may have come online and new offices set up – in 1931 and 1948 and 2001 – but for the victims of whatever it has been called by each generation, the reality of force, fraud, and coercion continued.

It is because of that that, rather than looking at word choice or policy prescriptions or as a way to achieve normative statements, I tend to see this as an issue about people, with hopes, dreams, and horrible things that they have survived. So it is they who are my touchstone. A few years ago, a friend gave me something that he found in a box of old letters at an estate sale – it is the Bill of Sale of a man named Willoby, sold for $400 in 1819. I will never know him but we all can strive to live up to his memory, a memory that comes down to us through the years. The chattel slavery that he lived and died in wasn’t just about economic systems, or regional politics, or even about racism. It was about people.

And in its modern iteration, it is still about people. One such person who I’m honored to know, and have featured in two of the Trafficking in Persons Reports in the last few years, is Shyima Hall. Let me remind you of her story. Shyima was sold by her parents to a wealthy Egyptian couple when she was only eight years old. She moved with the couple from Egypt to California, when they brought her into the country on a temporary visa. She worked up to 20 hours a day cooking and cleaning their large Orange County home. They confiscated her passport and verbally and routinely physically assaulted her.

After four years of enslavement, a neighbor filed an anonymous complaint with the state child welfare agency, leading to her being removed from the home. The only English she knew were the words “hi,” “stepsister” (which she was supposed to say to ward off inquiries about who she was), and “dolphin” (which she’d learned on a trip to SeaWorld where she was supposed to be taking care of her masters’ children, but for a few short minutes she had a chance to be a kid herself).

It is about people. About Andrew Kline, who I have thanked for inviting me tonight, but who we all should thank for taking on Shyima’s case when he was a prosecutor. For bringing her captors to justice and, with the case agents, supporting her T-visa application so she could stay in America.

Shyima has been sworn in as a United States citizen, has been going to college, and recently released a memoir, “Hidden Girl,” which tells her incredible story. She dreams of becoming a police officer or immigration agent to help other victims of trafficking. And, just so you can get a sense of her spirit, she doesn’t just dedicate her book to those who helped her in her journey to freedom; she also dedicates it to the traffickers, telling them to be warned – I’m coming for you.

I have been blessed to meet such brave people, at home and around the world, since I came to Washington in the 1990s to join the Civil Rights Division, I was lucky to work with survivors and activists who are still on the cutting edge of this fight.

And there were those of us in government from back then who sought a change out of frustration with the tools we had. People like Tom Perez, Leon Rodriguez, Anne Milgram, Steve Dettelbach, Steve Warnath, Wendy Patten, Patty First, Melanne Verveer, Maria Echaveste, Hillary Clinton, and so many others. They too are still in the fight, whether in the Cabinet, as U.S. Attorneys, state Attorneys General; as head of Citizenship and Immigration Services, leaders in think tanks and NGOs and advocacy shops, as Ambassadors and Ambassador-designate.

They not only inspire me just as much as they did back then, but also demonstrate what the folks up at Northeastern Law School posited a few years ago: the number one predictor of whether someone would work on a trafficking case is whether they have already done one. Because once you look into this abyss, once you help these survivors, this becomes a cause that you come back to again and again.

So what do we know, after this re-birth of abolitionism? We know that human trafficking is a global problem. It is a U.S. problem. It is a problem that affects our entire society – the history we have lived and the economies we have built. We have made great accomplishments to combat trafficking in persons around the world and in our own home towns, but we have so much more to do. And we need your help to do it.

Our knowledge of human trafficking as a crime, our understanding of its pervasiveness throughout every region and country of the world, and the many forms this crime takes, have all grown tremendously since Republicans and Democrats came together to draft the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in the late 1990s. From the energy of the Clinton Administration’s Worker Exploitation Task Force and Interagency Council on Women, it was for the incoming Bush Administration to execute the TVPA’s promise into a reality, and thus grew the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Office. In those years, we saw Nancy Ely-Raphel setting up the office; John Miller bringing passion and focus; Mark Lagon recognizing the importance of labor trafficking and good old-fashioned diplomacy.

In the years that I have been Ambassador, we have continued that focus on all forms of trafficking. We have tapped consumer demand and corporate interest, and have advanced with the United Nations’ “Palermo Protocol” to a point where universal ratification no longer seems like a pipe dream.

And as we grow our understanding of trafficking across U.S. foreign policy, looking at how to incorporate it into affirmative efforts like development goals and government procurement standards, we have seen how it often develops, like a fifth horseman of the apocalypse, in the wake of the worst natural disasters and political collapses.

When the people of the Middle East rose up to challenge autocratic power structures in the Arab Awakening, one of the first interagency bodies the Tunisians created in their new government was one to fight trafficking in persons – they explained to me that they had tried to study trafficking, and had worked on it in secret, because the dictator had ordered them to conceal its extent from the Americans. Now Tunisia has added a second committee to address this crime and we applaud their progress.

While Americans remember Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi’s demise, few know that the Libyan revolution marked the beginning of a new life for an Ethiopian maid found horribly burned in the Qadhafi compound by a CNN crew who was in the palace for the now-too-common ritual of filming the excesses of dictatorship.

They knew about trafficking because of their innovative reporting of their Freedom Project. We worked to get her to safety and medical care in Malta. The dictator’s son, Hanibal Qadhafi, and his wife, had narrowly escaped prosecution for beating a maid in Geneva a few years before. The burns from where they punished this woman with boiling water were stark evidence that they had once again abused with impunity when armed with all of the power that corruption brings.

When a massive earthquake struck Haiti, among the dire need for health services, sanitation and other forms of disaster relief, the plight of enslaved children came to the world’s attention.

Many had been held in domestic servitude before the earthquake. And after the earthquake, in the resulting displacement, many ended up forced into prostitution, begging, or street crime by violent criminal gangs.

Following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and other disasters like it, we have seen the breakdown of social and government structures that leave populations vulnerable to trafficking. Some natural disasters are followed by increased reports of suspected cases. But given the commitment of the Government of the Philippines and their Interagency Council Against Trafficking, we also saw officials working to confront the traffickers, even as they started to rebuild.

When Boko Haram made world news after they abducted 200 Nigerian girls from a boarding school this past spring, questions of human trafficking abounded in Congress and around the world, as the global community looked for solutions to free “our girls.”

And today, as ISIL continues to spread its terror throughout parts of Iraq and Syria, we have also learned of its deplorable enslavement, sale, forced marriage, and abuse of Yezidi and other religious minority women and girls.

With each challenge we face, we are confirming that crisis breeds vulnerability and victimization. But we are also learning how to better respond to human trafficking – in cooperation with partners on the ground – in these disasters and political crises. In all of these cases, people needed help, secure transportation, and a safe place to begin their recovery.

We have also learned that survivors do not have the luxury to wait until the crisis is over before receiving desperately needed services. For them, the prospect of post-conflict, or the cessation of combat operations, can be months or years after their personal liberation, whether it was with the help of a government or an NGO, or through their bravery in going out a window or making a surreptitious phone call.

Most importantly, we have learned that to prevent that predictable rise in human trafficking, we need to stop being surprised that it exists. That it is not an aberration, but is predictable and far too common. So that demands planning, and early and sustained action to reduce vulnerabilities.

It is not all crisis, though. The Report also shows improvements in how some governments approach this crime and protect its victims. It shows the emergence of a realization that adults and children exploited in the commercial sex industry should no longer be considered criminals to be scorned – a conceptual leap that is leading to a shared commitment in the U.S. to safe harbor, expungement, and treatment.

It shows labor trafficking victims being identified in almost every sector: agriculture, fishing, extractives, construction, hospitality, education, nursing, domestic work, and textiles – a recognition that tells us that we can’t look at our tomatoes, our clothes, our cell phones the same way anymore. It tells us that the modern standards of the TVPA and Palermo Protocol are coming online, in new and sometimes surprising ways.

It has now been almost 15 years since the passage of the TVPA and the adoption of the Palermo Protocol. These legal instruments guide our response to modern slavery by mandating that trafficking must be confronted by working for more and better prosecutions, increased victim protection, and ultimately, prevention of this heinous crime. In other words, the “3P Paradigm.”

The “3Ps” stand for the proposition that it is not enough to catch the bad guys, if we do not also care for the survivors and work to ensure that no one else is victimized. It is not enough to run a modern underground railroad, caring for the survivors anonymously and in the shadows, if law enforcement cannot also put the traffickers out of business. And it is not enough to merely raise awareness of human trafficking as another “issue of the month,” if that awareness is not harnessed to link those who need help, with those who seek to help them.

The Palermo Protocol now boasts 163 states parties. New laws have been passed around the world. Thousands of victims have been helped, and we have seen thousands of arrests and prosecutions. While there are millions more victims who have gone un-helped, that is a start. Those individual successes would never have been brought about without the legal and policy achievements of the last decade, what has been called the “decade of development.” During that time, my Office and our partners in foreign governments and civil society, worked to build the legal and policy frameworks to combat trafficking across the 3Ps.

As Secretary Clinton suggested a few years ago, the second decade will hopefully be looked back on as a “decade of delivery,” where the promise of these legal frameworks is realized through rigorous implementation and robust results. To date, the mandates and protections of the UN Protocol, and the cutting-edge anti-trafficking laws have only resulted in the identification of a mere fraction of the estimated victims. The International Labor Organization (ILO) has estimated that approximately 21 million people are toiling in bondage around the world, representing a profit to the abusers of $150 billion. Others have higher numbers, up to around 30 million people enslaved.

No matter the actual number, in a world with millions of people still held in bondage, success stories in the tens of thousands account for an unforgivably low percentage. As Secretary Kerry has challenged, we can all do better.

In the last five years, to that end – to deliver on the promise of freedom – the Obama Administration has strengthened its anti-trafficking efforts across the federal government. Federal agencies have come together to train new audiences on human trafficking, harness procurement officers and CEOs to look at human trafficking in supply chains, engage professors and law enforcement to enhance data collection, and link medical professionals and victim advocates to improve victim identification and protection – all in the service of freedom. We do that through some unfortunately-acronymed entities: the cabinet-level President’s Interagency Task Force to fight trafficking (PITF), and the subcabinet-level Senior Policy Operating Group (SPOG), which meets quarterly and maintains a number of committees and working groups.

In his historic speech at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2012, President Obama challenged not just the nation and the world. He also gave the PITF and SPOG the task of carrying out his commitment to confront the traffickers, recognize the plight of victims, and ensure slavery-free supply chains in federal procurement and other sectors. The interagency followed his lead and built upon it – with the development and release of a federal strategic action plan on victims services in the United States, a convening of law enforcement and technology companies to brainstorm ways to share information more effectively, and increased transparency by the practice of live-streaming the annual meetings of the PITF chaired by Secretary Kerry at the White House.

Striving to meet the challenge of “nothing about them without them” – a mantra that reminds us that trafficking policy must grow and develop from the voice of the people most affected, the victims – we were joined by a group of survivors at the White House to advise us on policy formation and implementation. The FBI’s uniform crime reporting statistics came online, and the Department of Health and Human Services expanded its anti-trafficking programs to address vulnerabilities in foster, homeless, and LGBT youth. We’ve held listening sessions with Native American communities and continued partnerships with rural legal aid, immigrant rights groups, and organized labor.

Each day, we strive to improve our strategy and enhance our partnerships in order to fulfill not only the mandates of the TVPA, but also the challenge of the President and Secretary Kerry to do more, to do better. Because the alternative is to turn away from the cries of the victim. To turn our back on the promise of freedom.

Confronting this heinous practice isn’t comfortable, and perhaps it shouldn’t be. But we have one of the best tools for doing that, in the annual Trafficking in Persons Report that Secretary Kerry has termed the “gold standard in assessing how well governments – including our own – are meeting that responsibility.” It not only provides an annual snapshot of the problem, but also, through its rankings and sanctions regime and norm-setting, it has come to hold governments accountable for policies and practices that either create or further endanger populations vulnerable to trafficking. This year, we looked at 188 countries and territories.

At the State Department, we separate the world into regions for purposes of policy and bureaucracy. In 2001 – the first year the Report was released – most of the six regions had fewer than eight countries that had criminalized trafficking in persons. Now, approximately 70% of states have enacted modern human trafficking laws. Similarly, the Palermo Protocol was adopted in 2000 and a year later, only two countries had ratified it. But now, almost 85% of countries have acceded to the Palermo Protocol.

The TIP Report has been recognized for contributing to the development of our understanding of human trafficking; it has helped improve the response of governments to trafficking within their borders and region and has changed the discussion on the forms of exploitation embodied by the term “trafficking in persons.” The Report’s tier ranking system, accompanied by the transparency of the detailed country narratives and the inclusion of concrete recommendations, has motivated governments to develop activities and structures to fight this serious crime. The Report has come a long way.

One study showed that a government’s likelihood of passing a law prohibiting trafficking nearly doubled after the State Department downgraded the country to a lower rank. Another study recognized the TIP Report as “the most influential and the most trusted indicator of states’ performance vis-à-vis human trafficking.”

By including the minimum standards that we apply, and the basis for the rankings, trends and best practices, and shining the light on the United States, we have tried to bring a new level of transparency and understanding. We have called countries out for both inadvertently clumsy or willfully offensive policies such as brothel raids, inflexible guest worker programs, state-sanctioned forced labor, and exclusionary immigration policies. We’ve condemned discrimination against female migrants, minority communities, the LGBT community, and those in the sex industry.

The results are clear: in the years since the first TIP Report was published, over one hundred countries have passed modern anti-trafficking laws. Countries have established specialized law enforcement units, set up trafficking victim assistance mechanisms, and launched public awareness campaigns. Human trafficking has moved from a fringe issue to one regularly raised by the highest officials and leaders throughout the world. Not just when the United States comes calling, but in regional fora and countries’ domestic policies, responding to home-grown political interest and pressure. The TIP Report, structured by its clear tier rankings and minimum standards, has been a leading motivator for this unprecedented growth in understanding of, and action against, human trafficking.

Diplomacy is not just reporting, or bilateral and multilateral conversations, however. For the TIP Report to be more than just an exercise in finger-pointing, it must be followed on quickly with solutions. So over the last years the TIP Office sharpened its foreign assistance efforts. Efficiency is important, especially considering that our foreign assistance funding each year is maintained at only about $20 million dollars – what Senator Al Franken once noted conservatively to be less than 70 cents per estimated victim.

In addition to our flagship grants, we have also introduced an improved and streamlined Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) funding mechanism, and increased the funding for T&TA to $3 million (an increase of 50%). These improvements have allowed us to respond more quickly and effectively to requests for short-term and targeted assistance from governments and U.S. embassies around the world through our T & TA providers. Those programs are directly linked to the TIP Report recommendations, particularized needs, and bilateral political opportunities.

Most recently, we’ve helped Maldives, Papua New Guinea, and Seychelles pass their first TIP laws. We’ve gotten Botswana, Morocco, Namibia, and Tunisia to draft legislation and have supported the first successful convictions in The Bahamas, Liberia, and Maldives.

Our programs are vast in scope and they are applied in every region of the world. We are proud of the important impact we have with our available funding. For example, our innovative programs provide legal counsel for victims by establishing the first clinical legal training program in a Mexican law school. They link the TIP Report Heroes named each year by the Department into a support network.

Our programs support enhanced anti-TIP responses in the wake of disasters and provide emergency victim services. They are encouraging development of anti-trafficking NGOs and victim/witness regimes, much like the program that Secretary Kerry pioneered for the United States as a young prosecutor in Middlesex County. They are engaging research to understand the core drivers of forced labor in regional supply chains.

And those are just a few of the hundreds of programs we have implemented in partnership with organizations around the world. Just a few of the programs through which we have fostered collaboration with governments seeking to build or strengthen their models of prevention, protection, and prosecution.

So how do we take this forward? Our challenge in the coming years is to not only to streamline the interagency, to continue innovative programming, to conduct rigorous reporting and diplomacy. It is also frankly to work toward an anti-trafficking world in which the U.S. report is not the only game in town. Where best practices come from developing countries as well as the global North. Where migration doesn’t mean waiving one’s basic rights. Where prostitution or farm work or housework or construction are not treated as acquiescence to abuse. Where survivors are as empowered as governmental officials.

Indeed, looking ahead, I see the role of survivors as essential in developing every aspect of our anti-trafficking policy and response.

For my part, I can tell you of some of the survivors who have made an impact on me.

The man who dove over a fellow sweatshop worker to protect her with his own body, only to suffer permanent nerve damage in his arm and jaw as the thugs swarmed around him, beating him with clubs…

The interpreter who had to read to her fellow workers a list of troublemakers slated for punishment – a list that included herself. And was then brave enough to smuggle out a note and throw it to a Good Samaritan in the hope that it would get to someone who cared…

The woman who ran up to a police officer in a Dollar Store to point out her pimp and beg: “arrest me; it’s the only way I’ll get away from him”…

The women in a high-volume brothel who took extra clients to keep the young girls from having to be with up to thirty men a day…

And the farmworkers who not only were brave enough to give evidence against their traffickers, but have gone on to create an entire system of labor rights monitoring in the tomato fields of south Florida…

I see this fight through these survivors and so many more. And through the people who are driven by their example.

The psychologist who started working on trafficking with a group of deaf Mexican trinket peddlers, standing in the White House receiving a Presidential Medal, having selflessly led this struggle for years…

The pro bono project lawyer who fights for domestic servants, convincing courts to hold diplomats accountable and pressing us to work toward a standard of conduct for diplomats around the world…

The journalist who tracked down a crime so monstrous that it victimized children in Haiti, plantation workers in Indonesia, and fishermen off of New Zealand…

The criminologist who has brought us a greater understanding of sex buyers and how we can understand the demand they create…

The businessman who was not content to meet the manpower needs of corporations and governments, but realized that business needed to work together in coalition to advance anti-slavery ethical principles…

The academics – on all sides of this issue – who press us all to act with rigor…

The TIP Office staff who spend so much time away from their families, circling the globe investigating abuse and engaging governments and NGOs alike – like traveling salesmen who are selling freedom…

The lawyers who work to give legal aid to rural workers, who give sanctuary to families and rights to immigrants…

The anthropologist who, rather than simply repeating old assumptions or narratives, went out and interviewed survivors to see whether the promises of the TVPA were being delivered upon throughout their long-term recovery…

It is about survivors. These are not people who are weak, or powerless, or lack an understanding of what is right or wrong. They are people who need us to listen to them, and join them in charting a path to freedom.

Survivors have already succeeded in demonstrating how effective a pragmatic and collaborative approach can be in combating trafficking around the world. They have helped us improve our methods of identifying victims and ensuring that we do not re-traumatize them. They have taught us to focus on delivering the full array of services needed to move beyond their victimization.

Survivors have forced the anti-trafficking movement to shake free of its ideological positions. Some came to the anti-trafficking fight from other issues. Prostitution. Immigrants Rights. Organized Labor. Human Rights. Organized Crime. Trade. Civil Rights. Sometimes with hardened views and on different sides.

And frankly, at times the anti-trafficking movement got a reputation of not being worth dealing with because it was not willing to stop fighting amongst itself or lashing out against those who were perceived as ideological rivals. But survivors, and what they need, have shown the emptiness of that acrimony. Their needs, and their insights, can lead us to that decade of delivery.

Perhaps most of all, survivors have taught us that more needs to be done and that we all must do our part. That we must be worthy of their bravery. That we must heed Secretary Kerry’s challenge to do more. To listen to the cries of the enslaved, to respond to the tremors that shake the world.

And they have taught us that we must do what is right.

Yesterday, John Doar passed away. Many people may not recognize the name, but he was the lead U.S. civil rights prosecutor in the 1960s. I’ve been blessed to meet him at reunions and be inspired by his example. The Justice Department’s civil rights efforts have at times focused more on involuntary servitude and slavery, at other times police brutality, and at other times on racial violence. Always, however, seeking to vindicate those who have been intimidated in the free exercise of their constitutional rights.

Today’s New York Times tells the story of John Doar walking into the no-man’s land between Black protesters and White police in Jackson, at the height of what is known as Mississippi Burning. As bricks and bottles rained down around him, he stood like something out of an old Western movie. He shouted “My name is John Doar. D-O-A-R. I’m from the Justice Department, and anybody here knows what I stand for is right.” The bill clubs were lowered, the bricks were dropped. And the race riot never happened.

I will forever be inspired and guided in my fight for Civil Rights not just by a Presidential Medal of Freedom winner like John Doar, but by the countless everyday heroes, known and unknown, who have also stood defiantly for human dignity here and around the world. I can only hope to meet their example, and to be some fraction of the lawyer John Doar was.

But without being presumptuous, in his honor, I am proud to say tonight: my name is Lou de Baca. I’m from the State Department. From the Trafficking Office. And anybody here knows what we stand for is right.

Thank you.

2014 Leaders’ Declaration

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

November 11, 2014

The 22nd APEC Economic Leaders’ Declaration – Beijing Agenda for an Integrated, Innovative and Interconnected Asia-Pacific

1. We, the APEC Leaders, gathered by Yanqi Lake in Beijing for the 22nd APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting. Under the theme of “Shaping the Future through Asia-Pacific Partnership”, we held substantial discussions on the priorities of advancing regional economic integration, promoting innovative development, economic reform and growth, and strengthening comprehensive connectivity and infrastructure development with a view to expanding and deepening Asia-Pacific regional economic cooperation, and attaining peace, stability, development and common prosperity of the Asia-Pacific.

2.The Asia-Pacific region has experienced a quarter of a century’s growth and development. APEC has not only made significant contributions to the region’s economic development, social progress and improvement of people’s livelihoods, but has also epitomized the great changes and rising strategic position of the Asia-Pacific. Through its unique approach featuring voluntary action, consensus, flexibility and pragmatism, APEC has successfully established a sound regional economic cooperation framework among member economies with remarkable diversity and at different stages of development. Adhering to the spirit of unity, mutual respect and trust, mutual assistance and win-win cooperation, we have been working to narrow the development gap among ourselves and have consistently promoted the robust, sustainable, balanced, inclusive and secure growth in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

3.After years of rapid development, the Asia-Pacific has become the most dynamic region of the world, and has never been as important as it is today in the global landscape. At present, the Asia-Pacific maintains a strong momentum of growth; it possesses an enormous potential and has a bright future. Yet it is also faced with risks and challenges.

4.We are at an important historical moment of building on past achievements and striving for new progress. We are committed to working together to shape the future through Asia-Pacific partnership, building an open economy in the Asia-Pacific featuring innovative development, interconnected growth, and shared interests, and consolidating the leading role of the Asia-Pacific in the world economy, with a goal of opening up new prospects for future cooperation and achieving common prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

5.To achieve the above-mentioned goals, we pledge to take the following actions:

I.  Advancing Regional Economic Integration

Pursuing Free and Open Trade and Investment

6.We reiterate the value, centrality and primacy of the multilateral trading system in promoting trade expansion, economic growth, job creation and sustainable development. We stand firmly together to strengthen the rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading system as embodied in the WTO.

7.We express our grave concern regarding the impasse in the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) which has resulted in stalemate and uncertainties over other Bali decisions. These developments have affected the credibility of the WTO negotiating function. In finding solutions to the implementation of the Bali decisions, APEC will exert creative leadership and energy together with all WTO members in unlocking this impasse, putting all Bali decisions back on track, and proceeding with the formulation of Post-Bali Work Program, as a key stepping stone to concluding the Doha Round.

8.We reaffirm our pledges against all forms of protectionism. We extend our standstill commitment through the end of 2018 and reaffirm our commitment to roll back protectionist and trade-distorting measures. We remain committed to exercise maximum restraint in implementing measures that may be consistent with WTO provisions but have a significant protectionist effect, and to promptly rectifying such measures, where implemented.

9.We acknowledge that bilateral, regional and plurilateral trade agreements can play an important role in complementing global trade liberalization initiatives. We will continue to work together to ensure that they contribute to strengthening the multilateral trading system. We underscore the importance of the negotiations to expand the product coverage of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA). A final ITA expansion outcome should be commercially significant, credible, pragmatic, balanced, and reflective of the dynamic technological developments in the information technology sector over the last 17 years, and contribute to the multilateral trading system. We welcome APEC’s leadership in advancing the negotiations and call for swift resumption and conclusion of plurilateral negotiations in Geneva. We welcome the launch of negotiations on Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) in July 2014 in Geneva. We encourage participants of the above initiatives to seek expanded memberships.

10.We welcome the significant progress made toward achieving the Bogor Goals. We will make every effort to achieve the Bogor Goals by 2020. We also welcome the biennial Bogor Goals review this year. We urge all economies, particularly developed ones to deeply consider the conclusions of the Report on APEC’s 2010 Economies’ Progress towards the Bogor Goals and the 2012 and 2014 Bogor Goals Progress Report, and to take more concrete actions towards attaining the Bogor Goals.

11.Recognizing APEC has a critical role to play in shaping and nurturing regional economic integration, we agree that APEC should make more important and meaningful contributions as an incubator to translate the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) from a vision to reality. We reaffirm our commitment to the eventual FTAAP as a major instrument to further APEC’s regional economic integration agenda.

12.In this regard, we decide to kick off and advance the process in a comprehensive and systematic manner towards the eventual realization of the FTAAP, and endorse the Beijing Roadmap for APEC’s Contribution to the Realization of the FTAAP (Annex A). Through the implementation of this Roadmap, we decide to accelerate our efforts on realizing the FTAAP on the basis of the conclusion of the ongoing pathways, and affirm our commitment to the eventual realization of the FTAAP as early as possible by building on ongoing regional undertakings, which will contribute significantly to regional economic integration, sustained growth and common prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. We instruct Ministers and officials to undertake the specific actions and report the outcomes to track the achievements.

13.We welcome the establishment of a Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI) Friends of the Chair Group on Strengthening Regional Economic Integration (REI) and Advancing FTAAP, and urge the Friends of the Chair Group to continue its work. We agree to launch a collective strategic study on issues related to the realization of the FTAAP, and instruct officials to undertake the study, consult stakeholders and report the result by the end of 2016.

14.We endorse the establishment of an APEC Information Sharing Mechanism on RTAs/FTAs. We highly commend the work on the implementation of the Action Plan Framework on Capacity Building Needs Initiatives (CBNI), and endorse the Action Plan Framework of the 2nd CBNI. We instruct officials to design targeted and tailor-made capacity building activities to narrow the gap of the capacities of APEC economies to facilitate the eventual realization of the FTAAP.

15.In addition to the above, we reaffirm the role of APEC in addressing next generation trade and investment issues and sectoral initiatives, and agree to accelerate “at the border” trade liberalization and facilitation efforts, improve the business environment “behind the border”, and enhance regional connectivity “across the border” to accumulate more building blocks for the realization of the FTAAP. Therefore, we:

— reaffirm our commitment to reduce applied tariffs to five percent or less by the end of 2015 on the list of environmental goods that we endorsed in 2012 in Vladivostok. We call upon all economies to redouble their efforts in order to realize the economic and environmental benefits. We will instruct officials to report progress in achieving this ground-breaking commitment at our meeting next year in the Philippines. We welcome the work on capacity building on Environmental Goods (EGs) commitment implementation;

— welcome the inaugural meeting of the APEC Public Private Partnership on Environmental Goods and Services (PPEGS) on renewable and clean energy trade and investment, and endorse the APEC Statement on Promoting Renewable and Clean Energy (RCE) Trade and Investment;

— welcome the progress onexploring products which could contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth as part of our concrete commitment to rural development and poverty alleviation;

— endorse the Action Agenda on Promoting Infrastructure Investment through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and instruct officials to take concrete actions to strengthen cooperation on PPP to promote more robust and sustainable infrastructure investment and development in the APEC region;

— welcome the Case Studies on Sustainable Investment in the APEC Region and encourage officials to consider and draw experience and good practices from the nominated cases to promote sustainable cross-border investment;

— endorse the APEC Cross Border E-Commerce Innovation and Development Initiative and encourage economies to designate or establish Research Centers of Cross-border E-commerce Innovation and Development on a voluntary basis;

— recognize that the effective protection and enforcement of IPR including trade secrets incentivizes and facilitates innovation and foreign direct investment and the dissemination of technology through licensing and partnerships;

— endorse the APEC Action Agenda on Advertising Standards and Practice Development to promote alignment of advertising standards and reduce the cost of doing business across the region;

— endorse the Asia-Pacific Region Automotive Industry Sustainable Development Declaration and welcome the outcomes of the 2014 APEC Regulatory Cooperation Advancement Mechanism (ARCAM) Dialogue on Electric Vehicle Standards. We welcome the APEC Actions to Promote the Widespread Usage of Electric Vehicles.

Advancing Global Value Chain Development and Supply Chain Connectivity

16.Recognizing that Global Value Chains (GVCs) have become a dominant feature of the global economy and offer new prospects for growth, competitiveness and job creation for APEC economies at all levels of development, we endorse the APEC Strategic Blueprint for Promoting Global Value Chain Development and Cooperation (Annex B). We welcome the progress made in the measurement of Trade in Value Added (TiVA), services, SMEs and GVCs resilience, etc., and instruct officials to advance the work through the CTI Friends of the Chair Group on GVC to put forward new initiatives under the Strategic Blueprint in 2015 and beyond.

17.We endorse the Strategic Framework on Measurement of APEC TiVA under GVCs and the Action Plan on this Strategic Framework. We instruct the newly-formed technical group to work closely with the WTO, OECD, the World Bank, UNCTAD and other related international organizations, with an aim to complete the construction of the APEC TiVA Database by 2018.

18.We endorse the Terms of Reference of Promoting SME’s Integration into GVCs, and welcome the launch of the related activities. We instruct officials to make efforts in advancing this work.

19.We welcome the commitment of APEC economies to move forward with the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, including the notification by many APEC developing economies of their category A TFA obligations. We welcome, as well, the progress this year in improving the performance of APEC supply chains through targeted, focused capacity building and technical assistance. In this regard, we applaud the establishment of the APEC Alliance for Supply Chain Connectivity, which will contribute to our goal in achieving a ten percent improvement of supply chain performance by the end of 2015 and our broader supply chain connectivity objectives. We encourage economies to increase the resources of the APEC Supply Chain Connectivity Sub-Fund to ensure that our capacity building and technical assistance projects succeed to meet our ten percent performance improvement goal and to further our trade facilitation objectives. 

20.We agree to establish the Asia-Pacific Model E-port Network (APMEN) and welcome the first batch of APEC Model E-ports nominated by the APEC economies. We endorse the Terms of Reference of the APMEN and agree to set up the APMEN operational center in the Shanghai Model E-port, and instruct officials to make further efforts to contribute to regional trade facilitation and supply chain connectivity.

21.We positively value the APEC High-level Roundtable on Green Development and its declaration, and agree to establish the APEC Cooperation Network on Green Supply Chain. We endorse the establishment of the first pilot center of APEC Cooperation Network on Green Supply Chain in Tianjin, China, and encourage other economics to establish the pilot centers and advance related work actively.

22.We endorse the APEC Customs 3M (Mutual Recognition of Control, Mutual Assistance of Enforcement and Mutual Sharing of Information) Strategic Framework. We instruct officials to further simplify and coordinate APEC customs procedures based on the 3M Framework to facilitate the development of regional trade. We encourage APEC members’ customs authorities to continue strengthening cooperation and coordination in pursuit of the 3M vision, to push forward comprehensive connectivity and make greater contributions to the sustainable development of trade and regional economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region.

23.We recognize that the use of standardized codes will enable information about traded goods to be easily understood and shared by all parties. We therefore encourage APEC economies to work with the private sector to promote further cooperation on global data standards and their wider use by developing pilot projects. 

24.We welcome the initiative on manufacturing related services in supply chains/value chains as a next generation trade and investment issue, and instruct officials to develop a plan of action in 2015.

Strengthening Economic and Technical Cooperation

25.We endorse the APEC Strategic Plan on Capacity Building to Promote Trade and Investment Agenda which adopts a strategic, goal-oriented and multi-year approach. We instruct officials to take the Strategic Plan as a guide to develop and implement more tailor-made capacity building programs that contribute to the core trade and investment liberalization and facilitation agenda of APEC.

26.We encourage economies, particularly developed economies, to provide more contributions to ECOTECH and capacity building, to achieve our goal of bridging development gaps, and help member economies to meet their APEC commitments and their economic growth objectives.

27.We welcome the initiative to upgrade the Asia Pacific Finance and Development Center (AFDC) to the Asia Pacific Finance and Development Institute (AFDI).

II. Promoting Innovative Development, Economic Reform and Growth

28.We realize that the prospects for the shared prosperity of APEC will depend on innovative development, economic reform and growth in the region, which are complementary and mutually reinforcing. We recognize that the Asia-Pacific region is at a crucial stage of economic transformation. We are committed to accelerating the pace of reform and innovation, and exploring new growth areas with the goal of bolstering the position of the Asia-Pacific as an engine for world economic growth. We agree to strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination with a view to forging policy synergy, and creating a sound policy environment for the robust, sustainable, balanced and inclusive economic growth in the region.

29.We endorse the APEC Accord on Innovative Development, Economic Reform and Growth (Annex C) which identifies Economic Reform, New Economy, Innovative Growth, Inclusive Support and Urbanization as the five pillars for promoting experience sharing, policy dialogue, capacity building and practical cooperation.

Economic Reform

30.To advance APEC’s economic reform agenda, we agree to hold the 2nd Ministerial Meeting on Structural Reform in 2015. Recognizing that many APEC developing economies are facing the challenge of the Middle-Income Trap (MIT), we agree to incorporate the issue of overcoming the MIT into the work program of the APEC Economic Committee.

31.To meet our objective of strengthening the implementation of good regulatory practices, we will further enhance communication, exchanges, and sharing of experiences, and foster anopen and transparentregulatory environment in our economies, according to individual economies’ needs and circumstances. We will endeavor to take new actions through the use of information technology and the Internet to improve our conduct of public consultations on proposed regulations.

32.We recognize the role of internationally recognized private international law instruments such as the Hague Conventions in facilitating cross-border trade and investment, enhancing ease of doing business, and fostering effective enforcement of contracts and efficient settlement of business disputes. We encourage wider use of these instruments which would contribute to APEC’s regional integration, connectivity and structural reform agenda.

New Economy

33.We recognize that New Economy represents the trend of economic growth and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. We support the efforts to promote economic restructuring and upgrading in traditional industries, explore new and promising economic growth areas such as the Green Economy, the Blue Economy, and the Internet Economy, and promote green, circular, low-carbon and energy-efficient development.

34.We are encouraged by the progress of APEC’s ocean-related cooperation and welcome the Xiamen Declaration issued at the 4th APEC Oceans Ministerial Meeting this year, and instruct our Ministers and officials to fully implement the Declaration. We acknowledge the Xiamen Declaration’s statement on the Blue Economy. We welcome the APEC Marine Sustainable Development Report.  We encourage the Ocean and Fisheries Working Group to work with APEC fora to advance Blue Economy cooperation.

35.We recognize the role of the Internet Economy in promoting innovative development and empowering economic participation. We endorse the APEC Initiative of Cooperation to Promote the Internet Economy and instruct Ministers and officials to discuss the Internet Economy further, put forward proposals for actions, promote member economies’ cooperation on developing the Internet Economy and facilitate technological and policy exchanges among member economies, taking into account the need to bridge the digital divide.

36.We welcome the Beijing Declaration of the 2014 APEC Energy Ministerial Meeting. We welcome the establishment of the APEC Sustainable Energy Center in China. We recognize the importance of promoting diversified energy supplies, and market-based competition and pricing mechanisms that reflect demand and supply fundamentals as appropriate to each economy. We encourage member economies to take actions to eliminate trade protection and restrictive measures that may impede progress in renewable energy technologies and development of this sector, and we endorse the Energy Ministers’ aspirational goal to double the share of renewables including in power generation by 2030 in APEC’s energy mix. We affirm our commitment to rationalize and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption while still providing essential energy services. We acknowledge Peru and New Zealand for initiating voluntary peer reviews in 2014 of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that cause wasteful consumption and sharing their best practices, and welcome the commitment from the Philippines to undergo a peer review in 2015. We encourage innovation, competition and cooperation to promote a sound and sustainable energy sector in the Asia-Pacific and to ensure its energy security, economic growth, poverty eradication and an appropriate response to climate change.

37.We emphasize the importance of efforts to ensure sustainable development in mining, including the development, processing, utilization, investment and trade in minerals, metals and related products and welcome Ministers’ views recognizing the important role of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

38.We will continue our efforts to protect forest resources, combat illegal logging and associated trade, promote sustainable forest management, and work with relevant organizations, including the Asia-Pacific Network on Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation (APFNet), to ensure the achievement of the aspirational goal on forests in the Sydney Declaration.

39.We commit to continue our efforts in combating wildlife trafficking. We will take steps to combat wildlife trafficking by enhancing international cooperation through Wildlife Enforcement Networks (WENs) and other existing mechanisms, reducing the supply of and demand for illegally traded wildlife, increasing public awareness and education related to wildlife trafficking and its impacts, and treating wildlife trafficking crimes seriously.

Innovative Growth

40.We recognize innovation as an important lever for economic growth and structural reform. We endorse the initiative on Toward Innovation-Driven Development. We commit to foster a pragmatic, efficient and vigorous partnership on science, technology and innovation. We agree to strengthen collaboration amongst government, academia, and private sector stakeholders to build science capacity, to promote an enabling environment for innovation and including by establishing training centers for the commercialization of research, and to enhance regional science and technology connectivity, with respect for intellectual property rights and trade secrets. 

41.We welcome the Nanjing Declaration on Promoting SMEs Innovative Development. We commit to strengthen our support, and provide an enabling environment for SMEs in innovation activities. We welcome efforts to strengthen SMEs’ cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, involve SMEs in APEC production and supply chains, promote ethical business practices, as well as to empower their capacity to operate in an international market. We welcome member economies’ joint efforts and contribution to promote the APEC Accelerator Network and to invest in the early stage development of innovative SMEs.

Inclusive support

42.We recognize that inclusive support is essential to maintain growth and to deal with risks and potential fallout of reform, with an aim to provide a solid foundation for economic growth and to address the needs of vulnerable groups. We welcome the outcomes of the 6th Human Resources Development Ministerial Meeting and the Action Plan (2015-2018) on Promoting Quality Employment and Strengthening People-to-People Connectivity through Human Resources Development. We encourage APEC economies to give priority to stabilizing and expanding employment, implementing macroeconomic policies in favor of job creation, and strengthening capacity building for human resources development, vocational skills development and skill training for youth. We commend the 10-year achievement of the APEC Digital Opportunity Center initiative through our joint efforts and cooperation in bridging digital divides, strengthening human resource development and creating digital opportunities throughout the APEC region.

43.We recognize the pivotal role of women in the development and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific, and are committed to taking concrete policies and innovative measures to further enhance women’s economic empowerment and their access to markets and ICT technology, eliminate all barriers that hinder women’s economic participation, and ensure women’s equal opportunities, participation and benefit in innovative development, economic reform and growth. We welcome the recommendations from the Women and the Economy Forum, and commit to promote women entrepreneurship. We recognize the importance of data to measure progress in reducing barriers to women’s economic participation, and we welcome the establishment of the APEC Women and the Economy Dashboard as a tool to inform policy discussions. We support women’s leadership and recognize the importance of women’s entrepreneurship support services and networks. We encourage the formal development of an APEC-wide women’s entrepreneurship network to empower women entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses and increase their access to domestic and international markets.

44.We welcome recommendations from the 4th High Level Meeting on Health and the Economy and endorse the “Healthy Asia-Pacific 2020” initiative, which aims to achieve sustainable and high-performing health systems that will ensure people’s health, including physical and mental well-being, through the whole life-course by means of a whole-of-government, and whole-of-society approach with the collaboration of the entire Asia-Pacific region.

45.We commit to jointly tackle pandemic diseases, terrorism, natural disasters, climate change and other global challenges. In confronting the current Ebola Virus Disease epidemic, we are determined to intensify our cooperation and work shoulder to shoulder with African nations to help them effectively end this epidemic and prevent, detect, manage and respond to future outbreaks. We will continue to assist people in affected areas to overcome this crisis and build back their economies so we can win the battle against the disease.

46.We endorse the Beijing Declaration on APEC Food Security issued at the Third APEC Ministerial Meeting on Food Security. We welcome APEC Action Plan for Reducing Food Loss and Waste, the APEC Food Security Business Plan (2014-2020), and the APEC Food Security Roadmap toward 2020 (2014 version) and the Action Plan to Enhance Connectivity of APEC Food Standards and Safety Assurance.We note the G20’s work on food security in 2014. We call on APEC economies to seek common ground to build an open, inclusive, mutually-beneficial and all-win partnership for the long-term food security of the Asia-Pacific region. We will strengthen APEC agricultural science and technology innovation and cooperation to advance sustainable agricultural development and support sustainable fisheries.

47.We commend the ongoing efforts of the APEC Food Safety Cooperation Forum (FSCF) and its Partnership Training Institute Network (PTIN), which will help ensure the safety of food produced and traded in the APEC region by improving food safety regulatory systems, encouraging harmonization with international science-based standards, building capacity in areas that will facilitate trade, and enhancing communication and collaboration between industry and regulators to address emerging food safety issues. We welcome the APEC Food Safety Beijing Statement of the 2014 APEC High-Level Regulator Industry Dialogue on Food Safety.

48.We commend the strong resolve shown in fighting corruption, including through effective anti-corruption measures. We support the Beijing Declaration on Fighting Corruption and welcome the APEC Principles on the Prevention of Bribery and Enforcement of Anti-Bribery Laws, and APEC General Elements of Effective Voluntary Corporate Compliance Programs. We commit to work together against corruption and deny safe haven for corrupt officials and their illicitly-acquired assets. We are committed to strengthening cooperation and coordination on repatriation or extradition of corrupt officials as well as confiscation and recovery of corruption proceeds, and where appropriate, through the use of anti-corruption mechanisms and platforms such as the APEC Network of Anti-Corruption and Law Enforcement Agencies (ACT-NET).

49.We encourage further cooperation of member economies in disaster preparedness, risk reduction, response and post-disaster recovery, and cooperation in search and rescue, including through more robust networking among disaster management departments; following the APEC Guidelines on Appropriate Donations; improving supply chain resiliency; operationalizing the Trade Recovery Programme, reducing barriers to the movement of emergency responders and humanitarian relief across borders; increased data sharing; and application of science and technologies.

50.We reiterate our resolve to create a secure and resilient environment for economic activities and connectivity in the APEC region and continue concerted efforts to implement the APEC Consolidated Counter-Terrorism and Secure Trade Strategy.

Urbanization

51.We recognize that the Asia-Pacific is currently experiencing booming urbanization. We realize that sustained and healthy development of urbanization is conducive to promoting innovative growth and realizing robust, inclusive and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific.

52.We commend the constructive work undertaken by APEC this year in promoting urbanization cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, and endorse the APEC Cooperation Initiative for Jointly Establishing an Asia-Pacific Urbanization Partnership.

53.Recognizing the range of urbanization challenges and opportunities across APEC economies, we commit to collectively promote cooperation projects, and to further explore pathways to a new-type of urbanization and sustainable city development, featuring green, energy efficient, low-carbon and people-orientation.

III. Strengthening Comprehensive Connectivity and Infrastructure Development

54.We recognize that strengthening comprehensive connectivity and infrastructure development will help open up new sources of economic growth, promote cooperation and mutual assistance, and advance prosperity and the spirit of community in the Asia-Pacific region. We commend the achievements already made by APEC in connectivity and infrastructure development cooperation.

55.We endorse the APEC Connectivity Blueprint for 2015-2025 (Annex D). We are committed to implementing the APEC Connectivity Blueprint and achieving the overarching goal of strengthening physical, institutional and people-to-people connectivity by taking agreed actions and meeting agreed targets by 2025, with the objective of achieving a seamless and comprehensively connected and integrated Asia Pacific.

56.We commit to solve the financing bottleneck of infrastructure development. We commend the work and progress accomplished under the APEC Finance Ministers’ Process (FMP) in infrastructure investment and financing cooperation. We recognize, in particular, efforts in promoting PPP on Infrastructure, such as compiling demonstrative infrastructure PPP projects, advancing the work of the PPP Experts Advisory Panel, strengthening capacity building of Indonesia’s Pilot PPP Center, and carrying on capacity building project of PPP pilot demonstration and standard contract making. We welcome the Implementation Roadmap to Develop Successful Infrastructure PPP Projects in the APEC Region to guide APEC’s future work in this aspect. We welcome the establishment of the PPP Center in China as a center of excellence.

57. We encourage member economies to strengthen energy infrastructural development and connectivity, such as oil and natural gas pipelines and transmission networks, LNG terminals, smart grids and distributed energy systems on the basis of shared interest and mutual benefit.

58. We encourage all member economies to take effective measures to promote the mobility of business personnel, tourists, researchers, students and labor in the region.

59.We support initiatives and activities that further enhance the three dimensions of cross-border education cooperation found in the 2012 Leaders Declaration– mobility of students, researchers, and providers. We applaud the work that has been accomplished this year, including the establishment of the APEC Higher Education Research Center (AHERC); contributions to the APEC scholarships and internships initiative, which will encourage people-to-people exchange in our region; and promotion of virtual academic mobility by leveraging internet-based resources and innovative learning practices.

60. We support the target set at the 8th APEC Tourism Ministers’ Meeting of   making efforts to receive 800 million international tourist arrivals in APEC economies by 2025.

61. We appreciate the initiatives which will greatly improve connectivity and infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, help resolve the bottleneck of financing in this field, and promote regional economic integration and the common development of the Asia-Pacific.

IV. Looking Forward

62.With joint efforts of member economies, the Asia-Pacific has become the most dynamic region of the world with enormous growth potential. Never before has the world been more in need of a harmonious, stable and prosperous Asia-Pacific. We commit to working together to shape the future through Asia-Pacific partnership in the spirit of mutual respect and trust, inclusiveness, and win-win cooperation, and making a contribution to the long-term development and common prosperity of the region.

63.We commit to carry forward APEC reform, improve its cooperation mechanisms, and implement ambitious goals and blueprints, with the aim of enabling APEC to play a more active coordinating and leading role in the Asia-Pacific.

64.We commend the constructive role of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) in strengthening public-private partnership and promoting APEC cooperation in various fields.

65.We are committed to enhancing APEC synergy with other relevant international and regional cooperation organizations and fora through coordination and cooperation, as well as enabling APEC to play an increasingly important role in the global governance system.

66.We are satisfied with the positive, meaningful and fruitful achievements of this meeting and appreciate China’s tremendous and fruitful efforts to successfully host this meeting.

67.We are committed to supporting future hosts of APEC, including Peru, Viet Nam, Papua New Guinea, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand and Thailand who are to host APEC in the years of 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively.

68.We look forward to convening again during the Philippines’ hosting of APEC in 2015.