Ever wondered how the TIP Report is formed? Why it exists? How much it has grown since its inception? As the 2015 TIP Report release nears, TIPheroes.org is focusing on the TIP Report and how it supports anti-trafficking around the world.
Many people know what the TIP Report is. A document produced every year by the State Department, and specifically by the Office to Combat and Monitor Trafficking in Persons, the report details the human trafficking record of most countries in the world over a specific reporting period. As we’ve talked about before on this blog, countries are then divided up between four tiers based on their compliance with statutory standards laid out in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 and its various re-authorizations.
But that’s only part of the story. Did you know, for example, that the report has improved drastically since 2001? Did you know the amount of countries measured is more than double now than it was then? Probably not. As we count down to the release of the 2015 TIP Report, we’re going to be sharing some things you don’t know about the TIP Report, the TIP Report Heroes, and anti-trafficking in general. Get ready!
The TIP Report from 2001 until today
The TVPA was passed on October 28, 2000. Under a month later, on November 15, the United Nations adopted the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, along with its three protocols. The most famous of those protocols, in the anti-slavery world, is the Palermo Protocol which criminalizes human trafficking under international law. The bottom line is: 2000 was a great year. The J/TIP office, newly formed and under the leadership of Laura Lederer, then had to produce the first TIP Report in 2001. Working with a small reporting period (from October to March), they published a document on July 12, 2001, that was 102 pages and provided country narratives for 82 countries.
It was a dazzling accomplishment, and the first time that reporting—a proven human rights enforcement mechanism—was used to attempt to enforce anti-trafficking norms around the world. Only twelve countries were named as Tier 1 countries. Forty-seven countries were listed under Tier 2, and twenty-three countries were placed in Tier 3. Compare this to the 2014 TIP Report. The scope of the 2014 TIP Report was more than double that of the 2001 TIP Report; the 2014 report provided narratives and rankings for 188 countries. Thirty-one of the countries were ranked as Tier 1 countries in full compliance. Eighty-nine countries were ranked as Tier 2 countries. Forty-four countries were placed on the Tier 2 Watch List, and twenty-three remained at the lowest ranking of Tier 3.
The TIP Report has had an incredible journey. Almost since its inception, it has become one of the most important ways the world judges the progress in the fight against human trafficking. There is no disputing that. Annick Febrey of Human Rights First said the TIP Report is the "...preeminent gauge of the international effort to combat human trafficking, the tier rankings listed in the TIP report have a significant impact on the response of foreign governments to the problem of modern slavery." Steve Trent of the Environmental Justice Foundation stated: "[t]he TIP report is an incredibly useful tool for anyone working in the anti-slavery sector."
As the Secretary of State put it: "This year’s Trafficking in Persons Report offers a roadmap for the road ahead as we confront the scourge of trafficking."
The 2015 TIP Report: What to Look For as We Come up on the TIP Report’s Release
Various comments have circulated speculating the fate of certain countries and their rankings in the 2015 TIP Report. A useful fact to keep in mind is that the reporting period ends in March. Thus, don’t be surprised if you see Malaysia go up a rank, or if the report doesn’t mention the recent turbulent and tragic handling of the Rohingya boat people. The Associated Press Thai fishing scandal also broke just at the end of the period, so it may have influenced the drafter’s decisions about where Thailand will go, but we don’t know that for sure.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be offering some well-informed discussions and coverage of what we think are possibilities with regards to countries’ rankings. We’ll also be waiting for the new class of TIP Report Heroes to be announced! Watch the site for their profiles to go up as soon as they are announced, and for some behind the scenes coverage.
Most of all, hop on twitter and follow us at @tipheroes! We’re spotlighting one TIP Report Hero a day as we build towards the 2015 TIP Report release, and we’re tweeting about them under the hashtag #BeAHero. Follow along and learn about the incredible abolitionists that have been given the TIP Report Hero award!
Caleb Benadum is the Program Manager for the Trafficking in Persons Report Global Heroes Network, an upcoming web-based project planned for January 2015. He graduated from Capital University with a degree in Philosophy, and the University of Cincinnati Law School with a Juris Doctor degree. Having spent much of his life overseas, he is committed to modern-day abolitionism and the promotion of human rights around the world.