Combating Human Trafficking Through Research and Outreach

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Combating Human Trafficking Through Research and Outreach

United States
Project Summary
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The Human Trafficking Clinic (HTC) is a multi-faceted educational organization aimed at addressing the dearth of professional research in the field of human trafficking. Each HTC Associate (graduate level University of Denver students) works on a 2-4 year research project of their own design in tandem with their participation in the HTC Practicum course. The HTC provides trainings on annotated research, methodology, report writing, methodology and legal conceptualizations of human trafficking. HTC Associate projects provide in-depth, country specific and global research on topics pertinent to priority countries and high-risk regions with aims improve anti-trafficking policy and programs. Incoming Associates are encouraged to conduct their research on priority issues within the field such as global trends, the connection between institutional economic, religious and political forces and incidences of human trafficking, and critiques of current methodology and terminology used in research. Due to the increased international focus on sex trafficking and child exploitation, much associate research is focused on these priority areas. Current Associate projects involved an examination child trafficking in Russia, a critique of Haiti’s restavik system, an analysis of vulnerability reduction techniques to human trafficking used by women who have been displaced by the armed conflict in Colombia, and an examination of the complexities of male demand for prostitution and how it directly affects sex trafficking. Associates work in coordination with partnering NGOs, international organizations and government agencies on topics that HTC partners identify as priorities. Completed research projects will be published in the Human Trafficking Clinic Online Journal- the first scholarly online-journal to focus on human trafficking. Additionally, Research projects will be presented at biennial conferences sponsored by the HTC, as well as sent to all relevant policy makers and organizational leaders in the field. Partner projects will be co-published and used by HTC partner organizations.

As part of the Practicum, Associates and staff will engage in an on-going Taxonomy Project which aims to identify and define key terms-of-art in human trafficking with the purpose of establishing concise, universally-agreed-upon definitions which will rationalize scholarly research and policy decisions in the field. Once a definition of a key term is agreed upon, findings will be published on the HTC website for critique, debate, and the continual refinement of terms by leading human trafficking advocates, thought leaders, NGOs, international organizations, and scholars. The HTC will create and maintain an online forum and wiki-page which will allow these parties to dissect, critique, and debate the terms-of-art, ensuring their accuracy and universal acceptance. Currently, there is no such forum where members of the anti- human trafficking community can exchange thoughts and ideas. As a result, members use incomparable and contradictory data in their advocacy campaigns, exacerbating the already low level of inter-organizational communication resulting in ineffective programs and policy. The purpose of this project is to provide a forum in which leading professionals in the field can debate the use of key terms with the end result of establishing a series of concise, universally-agreed-upon terms to be used in all scholarly research and policy decisions. The idea for the project arose through multiple conversations with leading organizations and scholars in the field of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Despite the apparent need for such projects, the HTC remains the only organization committed to undertaking the task of establishing uniformity of terms-of-art in the field. This is a unique and innovative project that will add a sense of accountability and cooperation within this fast-growing field. Presenting a united front to combat this egregious human rights violation, which affects hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, is imperative to changing the current human trafficking paradigm. It is not enough that there is so much expressed interest in ending this practice, efforts must be coordinated and results must be drastic. The HTC Taxonomy project will help to achieve this.

In addition to running the Practicum and overseeing the Taxonomy and research projects, the HTC staff works to create a series of educational outreach and advocacy events that raise awareness about human trafficking. These events give HTC Associates opportunities to present their research and lead educational exercises and discussions about human trafficking. These events cater to the greater Denver/Boulder community, with a focus on reaching college, high-school and middle-school youth. HTC staff will create a series of short, informational films on human trafficking and modern-day slavery to be used in educational outreach and advocacy events throughout the greater Denver/Boulder area. The HTC will combine the created short films with clips from licensed human trafficking films such as “Lilja 4-Ever” and “Very Young Girls” into multi-media DVDs, which will be distributed at outreach events. In addition, the HTC will continue to implement its viral marketing campaigns, such as the “People are not Products” and “Hello My Name is” campaigns illustrated in the attached media. As previously mentioned, the HTC is also planning to launch the first scholarly online-journal to focus on human trafficking and modern-day slavery in late 2010. The journal will include Associate research projects as well as article and paper submissions from international thought leaders, scholars, and human trafficking organizations.

About You
Human Trafficking Clinic
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Section 1: About You
First Name


Last Name



Human Trafficking Clinic


, CO

Section 2: About Your Organization
Is this initiative/innovation linked to any established organization?


Organization Name

Human Trafficking Clinic

Organization Phone


Organization Address

2201 S. Gaylord St. Rm. 152, Denver, CO 80208

Organization Country

, CO

Is your organization a


How long has this organization been operating?

1-5 years

Your idea
What stage is your project in?

Operating for less than a year

When was the project initiated? or When are you planning to begin?

The project was initiated in January 2009 through multiple conversations with leading organizations and scholars in the field of modern slavery and human trafficking. These individuals and organizations expressed their frustration at the misuse and misinterpretation of key terms-of-art and the dearth of sound, accurate research in the field. Currently, much academic research and policy creation in the field of human trafficking is based off of research utilizing poor methodology and data collection or unsubstantiated assumptions resulting in ineffective and misguided policy which fails to properly address the needs of victims of human trafficking and modern slavery.

What kind of beneficiaries is your initiative addressed to?

Women, Girls, Youth, Society in general.

Describe the profile of the beneficiaries of this project

Our initiative aims to serve international victims of human trafficking and modern slavery. Although the project will be implemented on an institutional level, the results will have a direct and significant impact on international and national human trafficking policy benefiting victims throughout the world. Additionally, HTC outreach events will annually reach approximately 400 individuals throughout the greater Denver community.

What is your initiative’s implementation strategy?

The goals of the project are to establish concise, universally-agreed-upon definitions of key terms in human trafficking and to establish working partnerships between HTC Associates and leading NGOs and international organizations in the field of human trafficking. The end result of the 2009-2010 partnerships will be fifteen professional research papers on unexplored and under-researched topics in the field. To achieve this goal, HTC staff members will be responsible for contacting partnering organizations, creating a partnership agreement specifying the nature of the partnership and responsibilities of both parties, collecting official MOU’s for each partnering organization, providing proper research, methodology and legal training around human trafficking to Associates, and monitoring partner relationships. In regards to the taxonomy portion of the project, The HTC will create an exhaustive database compiling all current definitions of human trafficking terms used in scholarly articles, books and reports, and by NGOs, international organizations, and government agencies responsible for shaping public policy. The database will be continually updated as new definitions emerge to ensure accuracy. HTC Associates will then debate these currently existing definitions and devise an agreed upon and standardized definition of their own, to be used throughout all research and to be published on the HTC website as a tool of all working to end human trafficking. Throughout this process, the advantages and disadvantages to each individual definition will be debated, critiqued and refined through on online forum by HTC Associates and staff, community partners, thought leaders, and key individuals and organizations with the goal of establishing concise, accurate and universally-agreed-upon definitions that will be used in streamlining future scholarly research and policy and creating overall accountability within the field.

In your opinion, what are the main barriers or obstacles in connection with this theme?

Although the issue of human trafficking and modern slavery has recently been identified as a priority issues for national and international organizations, much policy and research is based off of poor methodology and innaccurate data resulting in ineffective policy and prosecution. By better understand the nature and extent of human trafficking, international organizations and governments can better fight this egregious human rights violation. Additionally, there is currently a low level of inter-organizational working within the field. This lack of cooperation creates conflicting studies and projects resulting in ineffective programs and policies. Due to the limited amount of resources and funding allocated on a national and international level to combat human trafficking and modern slavery, this lack of cooperation hinders the international abolition movement as a whole.

What type of partnerships you have or intend to generate strategic alliances with for the development of this initiative? Choose all that apply

State departments or areas, International organizations, Non-Government organizations, Universities.

Describe with whom you have generated these alliances and how

The Human Trafficking Clinic currently partners with Washington DC-based NGO, Free the Slaves on both research and outreach events. HTC Director Claude d’Estree has worked closely with Free the Slaves in an advisory position since 2002, establishing a personal relationship with president and co-founder, Kevin Bales; CEO and co-founder Jolene Smith; and Director of Communications Peggy Callahan. Currently, the HTC is in the process of establishing Associate and outreach partnerships with Not for Sale, Praxus, the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking, the International Organization for Migration, the International Labour Organization, and the European Roma Rights Centre. HTC Associates will be work directly with the community partners in an effort to increase inter-organizational cooperation and share resources which have been previously difficult to obtain due to the uncooperative nature of the human trafficking field. By encouraging cooperation and the dissemination of resources between organizations and individuals the HTC will establish a precedent to be followed by the rest of the human trafficking community. This will hopefully lead to an elimination of in-fighting within organizations working on this issue and the development of the most effective and accurate policies and programs to combat this egregious human rights issue. Additionally, The HTC also works with the faculty and staff of the University of Denver to help create a formidable presence of young activists, committed to eradicating modern day slavery and human trafficking on campus.

What are the main results generated and/or expected to generate by means of this initiative?

The primary result of the HTC’s projects will be fifteen professional policy papers and program assessments on issues pertinent to priority countries and regions, written by Associates in cooperation with partner organizations. The papers will be published on both the HTC and partner organization’s websites, and Associates will be required to present their paper at a regional, national, or international conference. Additionally, the established partnerships ensure the sustainability and continuation of the organization, as well as the publication of 5-15 research papers annually. The second result of HTC’s projects will be a series of concise and universally agreed upon definitions of terms used in the human trafficking field that will be used in future policy creation and scholarly research.

What is the main impact that your initiative might generate?

The projects will provide much-needed research and information on priority human trafficking issues to be used by international organizations, NGOs, governmental organizations and law enforcement with the impact of improving policy, raising regional awareness and improving anti-trafficking programs. The results of the Taxonomy Project include a series of concise and universally-agreed-upon definitions of terms-of-art to be used in future policy creation, scholarly research and to promote inter-organizational cooperation.