On June 15, the Secretary of State released the latest iteration of the annual 2023 TIP report. This document is a wealth of information for any involved in the fight against human trafficking, packed with meticulously-researched data and insightful discussions from survivors.

And beyond simple information, there’s a rating system that can cost countries millions of dollars if their efforts to combat human trafficking don’t meet the rating system’s standards.

But what is the TIP report, and why do the ratings matter? 

Facing a new problem

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the resulting humanitarian crisis drove world leaders to take action. Millions of people were displaced, hunger was rampant, and leaders were forced to take a closer look at international crime.

wall in the soviet union
Remnants of the Soviet Union can still be seen across Russia today, such as the sickle and hammer (symbol of the revolution) on this dilapidated building

The resultant surge in crime that crossed national boundaries led the United Nations to adopt what became known as the “Palermo Protocol” in 2000. This new resolution specifically targeted transnational crime, including human trafficking. That same year, the U.S. passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) to develop guidelines and procedures against commercial human trafficking. The TVPA was the first-ever comprehensive law to take on human trafficking. Besides offering protections and grants to victims, the TVPA set the gold standard, a three-pronged approach to eradicating human trafficking at every level: prevention, protection and prosecution.

What does TIP stand for?

The TVPA needed a system to understand the human trafficking situations around the world and a way to categorize each government’s efforts to combat the problem. To that end, each year, the Secretary of State is required to release the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report.

The annual TIP report is the result of months of exhaustive investigation into nations all across the globe. This document is an unparalleled exploration of what specific trafficking problems each country faces. Aside from the international ranking system, the TIP report is an invaluable, information-rich tool for nonprofits and concerned citizens who want to understand the problem better.

For example, this year’s report specifically discussed the rise in boys in human trafficking. According to the report, boys are the fastest-growing segment of victims in human trafficking; in fact, the number of exploited boys quintupled between 2004 and 2020. That particular section then goes on to make specific recommendations to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and governments on how to help male survivors.

boy's feet in a field
Destiny Rescue was honored to rescue 309 males in 2022, including 122 boys under the age of 18

Ranking governments instead of citizens

But the TIP report provides more than information: its primary goal is to assess how well governments address exploitation within their borders.

Every year, U.S. agents take a deep dive into each government’s efforts (or lack thereof) to combat trafficking in their particular location, investigating the unique problems each nation faces and making recommendations on how they can improve. 

young boy on a horse
Children and adults alike are often coerced into trafficking situations with false promises of a better future and then forced into all types of work, including farm labor, manufacturing and domestic servitude (Image is representational and child is not a victim of trafficking)

That’s where the rating system comes into play. It’s important to remember that the three tiers of the TIP system don’t rank the state of human trafficking in a particular country. Instead, they rank each nation’s response to the problem.

The three tiers are:

Tier 1 – Nations that achieve this highest level have acknowledged the human trafficking situation in their region and are making active, intentional efforts to address the issue. To make it into the first tier, those efforts must comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards for combating human trafficking.

Tier 2 – Countries in this category recognize their specific human trafficking challenges and are making efforts to combat them but have yet to make the TVPA minimum standard.

Tier 3 – Tier 3 countries have governments that (a) don’t admit that there’s a problem, (b) aren’t making a concerted effort to fight human trafficking or (c) both. In the most corrupt systems, government officials are complicit in the problem.

Encouraging progress

Nations that incur a third-tier ranking suffer more than just the international shame of the position. A Tier 3 ranking has serious financial consequences for those governments (outside humanitarian relief, of course), including restricting foreign assistance from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. 

Those penalties and bad optics help encourage corrupt or complacent nations to take serious steps in eradicating the world’s most despicable trade. 

The tactic appears to be working.

Just last year (2022), Thailand’s hard work to improve their anti-trafficking efforts paid off, and they shifted back to Tier 2 status—a much-celebrated move that shows steadfast resolve to make positive change in the nation. Despite pandemic-related difficulties, state officials accelerated their efforts to push back against human traffickers. They further demonstrated their dedication by signing an MOU with us! 

police at computers
Thai police during an online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) training with Destiny Rescue earlier this year

You can read the 2023 TIP Report here.

If you’d like to join our efforts in rescuing kids in Thailand and all over the world, please consider becoming a Rescue Partner. Your monthly gift could mean the difference between freedom and a life of abuse for a suffering child. Click below to get started.

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