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On Thursday, January 29, at the White House, Secretary of State John Kerry launched Verité’s research into trafficking risks and federal procurement supply chains. The report outlines the 11 business sectors at highest risk of trafficking which touch on federal procurement.

Secretary Kerry said:

Laws, regulations, and executive orders are necessary, but they are not sufficient. They will not do it alone. Everybody has a responsibility here. That’s why I am especially proud to work with the State Department and the work that it has done in undertaking with civil society to prevent corporate and federal dollars from aiding and abetting this crime. We’ve teamed up with the NGO Verité in order to develop a range of tools and resources for all businesses, not just federal contractors. And our Trafficking in Persons office has asked Verité and its partners to investigate and map out the risk of trafficking in global and federal supply chains.

As part of that effort, Verité has just published a report that zeroes in on the warning signs for human trafficking in 11 key sectors. And the report is a resource not only for federal contractors, but also for any corporation that wants to be part of the solution, and that is how, in the end, we’re going to stop this crime, and that is the way we are going to change things for the better, which is our obligation.

Secretary Kerry’s remarks opened a White House Forum on Combating Human Trafficking in Supply Chains. Verité CEO Dan Viederman participated on a panel about strategies for preventing trafficking associated with federal procurement, and discussed Verité’s initiative to promote compliance with President Obama’s Executive Order to strengthen protections against trafficking in federal contracts.  Several Verité clients were recognized with respect to their leadership efforts on ethical recruitment while participating on a panel about private sector anti-trafficking strategies—such as prohibiting recruitment fees and instituting due diligence mechanisms for recruitment firms associated with their suppliers.

The research report Secretary Kerry announced is one part of a Verité initiative funded by the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to promote best practices in fighting trafficking in global supply chains, and to ensure successful compliance with President Obama’s Executive Order. The research released yesterday is the first step toward making compliance easier by helping federal contractors, and any other business, focus resources on high risk sectors and identify what makes them risky. Verité has used a framework for identifying risk that captures the following characteristics of the business practice involved:

    • Sector-specific Risk Factors, including:
      • Risks deriving from the characteristic of the product or industry
      • Risks related to business processes involved in production or supply of the product
      • Risks related to the characteristics of the workforce involved
    • Risk Factors Associated with Particular Supply Chains, including:
      • Risks related to the country of production and/or service delivery
      • Political risk factors in the country of production
      • Socio-economic risk factors in the country of production
      • Policy-related risk factors in the country of production
      • Environmental factors in the country of production
    • Risks Related to the Country Supplying the Labor:
      • Political factors in the country supplying the labor
      • Socio-economic factors in the country supplying the labor 
      • Policy-related factors in the country supplying the labor 
      • Environmental factors in the country supplying the labor

The release of this research culminates the first phase of the program to facilitate compliance with the Executive Order. The second phase is stakeholder outreach, led by Aspen Institute, to ensure that the private sector can understand and influence the requirements by which compliance with the Executive Order can be demonstrated. Verité and Aspen have already held meetings with stakeholders from the NGO and government communities, and will host discussions with businesses in coming months. (If you are interested in participating, please contact Justine Shakespeare, Research Program Coordinator.

Lastly, Verité is developing a model Compliance Plan that will assist federal contractors and others interested in demonstrating that their operations and supply chains are free of slavery. We are also involved in a variety of endeavors to promote anti-trafficking efforts in the global seafood sector with relation to the Executive Order.  Please contact us for more information about how companies can participate in those activities.

The Compliance Plan, including special compliance information for the seafood sector, will be released in coming months, and will be presented on a web-based interface that will link compliance efforts to specific risks. We look forward to feedback on the research and input into the development of our model Compliance Plan. 

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