International support of local efforts by individuals and community-based organizations is vital to ending human trafficking, the U.S. State Department stated in its 2018 Trafficking in Persons report released on June 28.

“The grinding reality of fighting modern slavery takes place not on world stages but through the dedicated actions of individuals to meaningfully implement such commitments,” the report stated. “By supporting and empowering these communities, national governments can truly begin to address the individual trafficking cases that collectively make up the larger global issue.”

A clearer understanding of how trafficking is carried out at the local level allows for more effective national and international policies and practices.

Some traffickers are connected to larger criminal networks, but often they are associated with less centralized systems or comprised of a handful of individuals or a family unit that exploits their “first-hand knowledge of local systems, behaviors, social structures and individual interactions.”

“If we’re going to win this fight, national governments must empower local communities to proactively identify human trafficking and develop local solutions to address it,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a press conference announcing the report’s release. “There remains a great deal of work left to do. The world should know that we will not stop until human trafficking is a thing of the past.”

Nations are categorized into four tiers within the report based on the State Department’s assessment of efforts to align with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA).

Tier 1 nations are deemed to have met TVPA minimum standards. Forty-three nations were designated Tier 1 for 2018, up from 36 in 2017.

Tier 2 nations don’t meet the minimum standards, but the State Department felt substantial efforts have been made to do so. Eighty-one nations were Tier 2, up from 80.

Tier 2 Watch List nations have not met minimum standards and there isn’t sufficient documentation of efforts to do so. Forty-three nations were Tier 2 Watch List, down from 45 in 2017.

Tier 3 nations neither meet the minimum standards nor are they making efforts to do so. Twenty-three nations were designated Tier 3 for 2018, the same as last year. Non-humanitarian aid often is withheld by the U.S. from nations in this tier.

“Communities should be emboldened to recognize their own strengths in the fight against human trafficking and take steps to make it a priority,” the report emphasized. “Communities are not defenseless in the fight against human trafficking. They are a powerful part of the solution.”

The full report is available here. Summary information is available here.

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