One of the biggest challenges facing the anti-slavery movement is a lack of funding. The amount of money dedicated by governments worldwide to enforcing anti-slavery laws and protecting those at risk of enslavement is just a small fraction of the billions in annual profits raked in by traffickers every year.
Highlights of the bill, according to Sen. Corker’s website:
Establishing The End Modern Slavery Initiative Foundation: The legislation, similar to the establishment of the National Endowment for Democracy, will authorize a 501(c)(3) non-profit grant-making foundation in the District of Columbia to be known as “The End Modern Slavery Initiative Foundation” that will fund programs and projects outside the United States that must:
- Contribute to the freeing and sustainable recovery of victims of modern slavery, prevent individuals from being enslaved, and enforce laws to punish individual and corporate perpetrators of modern slavery.
- Set clear, defined goals and outcomes that can be empirically measured; and
- Achieve a measurable 50 percent reduction of modern slavery in targeted populations.
Funding: The initiative will seek to raise $1.5 billion, more than 80 percent of which will come through matching funds from the private sector and foreign governments. Sources of funding are as follows:
- $251 million in authorized funds from the United States over eight years: $1 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, followed by authorizations of $35.7 million in FY 2016-2022.
- $500 million from other foreign governments. (Double the investment of U.S. funds.)
- $750 million in private funding. (Triple the investment of U.S. funds.)
U.S. funds must be matched by $500 million from foreign governments and $250 million from the private sector. The remaining $500 million will be raised by The End Modern Slavery Initiative Foundation from additional private sector contributions. The U.S. government will channel diplomatic support and additional resources for law enforcement, rule of law, economic development and training assistance in support of The End Modern Slavery Initiative.
Free the Slaves is supporting the initiative.
“On behalf of Free the Slaves, I write to express our gratitude for your leadership in sponsoring the End Modern Slavery Initiative,” FTS Executive Director Maurice Middleberg wrote in a letter to Sen. Corker. “This proposed legislation holds the promise of greatly accelerating progress against the scourge of modern day slavery. If adopted, it would amplify U.S. leadership in bringing freedom to those now in bondage and strengthening the ability of at-risk communities to resist sex trafficking and forced labor.”
The initiative is also being supported by the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST).
“The U.S. government has a long history of funding domestic and international programs that combat modern slavery,” said ATEST Director Melysa Sperber. “The End Modern Slavery Initiative Act is a significant step forward to eradicating this heinous crime.”
Free the Slaves is a founding member of ATEST, and FTS Programs Director Karen Stauss joined in praising the bill.
“The resources devoted by governments and the private sector to fighting human trafficking pale in comparison to the severity of the problem,” Stauss said. “The End Modern Slavery Initiative promises to create new momentum by attracting significant new resources, within a framework that creates accountability for real results.”
See the full ATEST statement here.
The bipartisan initiative, officially sponsored by Sen. Corker, currently has 12 cosponsors, seven Republicans and five Democrats.