More than 1,200 members of the Japanese public convened in Tokyo on December 13 for the WSD Global Human Rights Summit on Human Trafficking, presented by the Handa Center in partnership with Worldwide Support for Development (WSD) and the Human Rights Resource Centre. Policymakers, lawyers, activists, and government officials representing various nationalities offered expertise on the issue of human trafficking and modern-day slavery in an effort to educate the public and increase awareness of this global challenge.
“Modern-day slavery is a multibillion dollar industry and it’s a big business,” said participant Valerie Amos, director of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. “Every country is affected by modern-day slavery in some way.”
Handa Center Director David Cohen and Senior Fellow Beth Van Schaack both participated in the all-day event. Panels focused both on the nature, scope, and scale of the phenomenon, as well as global strategies to combat it. Additional participants included Ong Keng Yong, former Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); Minoru Kiuchi, former Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs; and David Carden, former U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN, among more than a dozen others. The event was chaired by WSD Chairman Haruhisa Handa.
In his remarks, Cohen emphasized that human trafficking is a problem of global concern and it affects all nations in unique ways. He went on to highlight the lack of reliable data on the scale and scope of the problem, citing a recent Handa Center report on this subject, "Inaccurate Numbers, Inadequate Policies."
Based on her experience at the U.S. Department of State, Van Schaack presented the audience with the 4P -- prevention, prosecution, protection, and partnership -- paradigm, the fundamental international framework aimed at combatting contemporary forms of slavery.
Carden, an expert advisor to the Handa Center, focused on the root causes of the problem, many of which center on a lack of resources and social services, including basic necessities such as food and shelter, health care, and education. Those who “are desperate, vulnerable and are looking for another life,” are easily targeted
Ong, also chairman of the Human Rights Resource Center, emphasized that governments of all ASEAN nations, including foreign affairs ministries, police, and customs officials, need to coordinate to monitor and control the problem in Southeast Asia, which remains a hub of human trafficking.
The meeting was organized by WSD, a nonprofit organization assisting disadvantaged people and communities around the world.