2014 Performance Report
Every year as we prepare this report and I reflect back on our work, I am reminded of what a great privilege it is to work with Humanity United’s partners, leaders, and staff — people so dedicated to a more peaceful and free world. Though we focus on some of the most intractable problems facing humanity, I am proud of the shared spirit we collectively bring to this work.
2014 was a year of much hope on many fronts and a year of despair on others. It was a powerful reminder that our vision of a world free of conflict takes resilience, creativity, hard work, and an unwavering dedication to sustainable social change. It also sometimes takes renewal. That is why we dedicated so much time this year trying to more fully understand how we can better influence the environments and systems in which we work.
In 2014, we funded efforts to strengthen government systems, support civil society, and protect the most vulnerable from continued exploitation, and we worked for greater collaboration among leading NGOs, the business community, and other key stakeholders in human rights. We saw significant advances in response to our advocacy work through the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), including increased federal funding for key interventions. The Partnership for Freedom — a collaboration between the White House, federal agencies, and other donors — selected winners for the first Challenge and secured significant new private funding for later rounds of the competition. The Freedom Fund, a $100M donor collaboration launched in partnership with the Legatum Foundation and the Walk Free Foundation, also began operations in 2014 and launched hotspot activities in Northern India, Nepal, and Thailand.
Unfortunately, in 2014, it was impossible to escape the reality of civil war in South Sudan — where Humanity United has worked since 2008 — that has upended a nation that once held much promise and seen the death and displacement of far too many of its people. Similarly, Humanity United has worked for the past seven years in Liberia, where the world watched the agonizing devastation of the Ebola epidemic ravage the people of this fragile state with unexpected speed.
In these cases, we supported and witnessed the heroic work of partners like Nonviolent Peaceforce, Last Mile Health, and Doctors Without Borders, who were on the front lines of these tragedies. We also resolved to do more to help these people who have for too long been deprived of the peace, security, and freedom that they deserve.
As we have done every year, we strove to develop a transparent performance report in order to provide real insight into Humanity United’s mission and operations. With all of our work, we are constantly learning and iterating on our strategies in order to gain the knowledge needed to better achieve the change we seek.
As always, we invite your feedback. If you have thoughts or ideas, please contact us via email at [email protected] You can also follow our work on our website at www.HumanityUnited.org and on Twitter @HumanityUnited
On behalf of the board of trustees and our dedicated staff at Humanity United, I am pleased to present our 2014 Performance Report.
Thank you for your interest and support,
President & CEO
2014 was a year of much hope on many fronts and a year of despair in others.
Every year, billions are spent in human and material resources to address critical issues such as poverty, democracy, human rights, the environment, and security. Many good things happen as a result, but too often these resources fall short of their intended goal and are ineffective in achieving the change for which they are intended.
At Humanity United, we want to make sure our resources are directed toward effective strategies that contribute to long-term, sustainable solutions in the areas in which we work. In short, we want the change we seek to be lasting. To do this, we need to be as flexible, adaptive, and creative as the dynamics that impact our work.
To this end, we spent a lot of time in 2014 reviewing our strategies and efforts around the world. We began a deliberate process to help us more fully understand and account for the complex systems and environments that impact our portfolio of work. This team effort included critical analysis, detailed mapping of systems to determine where our resources would be the most impactful, rechecking our assumptions, and trying to anticipate and account for emerging trends. We took on the challenge to become a systems-oriented organization, requiring some fundamental changes to the ways we develop our strategies, teams, and partnerships.
Humanity United’s work has always been based on some understanding of the systems and environments that affect our work, but never before have we pushed so deeply into this level of analysis. In some cases, this process surfaced a need for only minor adjustments to an existing strategy. In other cases, more work was required to uncover the specific points of entry. In all cases, this systems initiative provided us a clearer picture and a better understanding of our work.
While we spent much of this year learning about systems analysis, the work to apply this analysis to our strategies will continue in the years to come, making Humanity United more effective at addressing the problems facing humanity and achieving the change needed for a more peaceful world.
At Humanity United, we want the change we seek to be lasting.
Nepal: A Better Brick Market
In Nepal, more than 250,000 men, women, and children labor in harsh conditions, making and transporting bricks by hand in kilns. The majority of these workers are recruited through a system of predatory loans and seasonal advances that require entire families, including children, to work at these kilns in a futile attempt to collectively repay their debt.
In 2014, we worked with the Global Fairness Initiative, Brick Clean Group Nepal, and GoodWeave to develop and launch Better Brick Nepal (BBN), an innovative market-based approach that incentivizes kiln owners to eliminate exploitative labor practices from their businesses. In exchange for coming into compliance with a GoodWeave-developed standard banning forced, bonded, and child labor in kilns, BBN offers kiln owners the training and equipment necessary to meet those standards and produce better quality, cleaner-burning bricks, thereby increasing their competitive advantage, market share, and profits.
BBN is now being piloted in five brick kilns that have the potential of collectively producing 30 million bricks. As work conditions are beginning to improve in these pilot kilns, BBN also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federations of Contractors’ Association of Nepal to implement a purchase plan to buy BBN bricks.
Great progress was made towards shaping a marketplace that rewards ethical, high-quality bricks. But these early advances are only the beginning.
Liberia: Promise And Challenges
Since 2007, Humanity United has provided support for Liberian civil society organizations, INGOs working in-country, and the Liberian government. In 2014, the unprecedented outbreak of Ebola resulted in thousands of infections and deaths and took a significant economic toll on the country.
In response to the crisis, we supported organizations including Direct Relief International, Doctors Without Borders, and Last Mile Health, who delivered desperately-needed supplies and worked on the front lines to treat those who are ill. We also provided support to the Monrovia-based Conflict Early Warning Working Group, which used its extensive local network to disseminate public health messages.
Despite the outbreak, Humanity United continued to support economic development in Liberia, primarily through our work in natural resource management and entrepreneurship. Our continued support for the Concessions Working Group allowed for new partnerships to promote transparency in extractives, increased monitoring by Liberian civil society, two research reports on natural resource governance, and a high-level convening bringing together concessionaires, the UN, and Liberian as well as regional governments. We also moved forward in our work with the SPARK Business Start-up Center in Monrovia and Virgin Unite to launch the Branson Scholarship Program, which in its first year completed a number of capacity and leadership development activities with an initial cohort of 15 Liberian entrepreneurs.
Thailand: Disrupting Exploitation
Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers are at risk of horrific forced labor in Thailand’s $7 billion seafood industry. To support the flow of cheap seafood available at supermarkets around the world, many of these migrants are deceived and sold into debt bondage on fishing vessels and in factories where they might face 20-hour shifts, regular beatings, torture, and even execution-style killings.
Since 2010, Humanity United has worked to disrupt this system of exploitation and abuse by engaging partners from nonprofits, media, government, and business to be part of the solution. This work came to a head in June 2014 when a major investigation by The Guardian’s Modern Day Slavery in Focus series revealed that the Thai fishing industry is “built on slavery” and linked Western retailers like Walmart, Tesco, Costco, Morrisons, and Carrefour to seafood produced by forced labor.
This investigation coincided with the downgrade of Thailand to the lowest tier in the U.S. Department of State’s 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report, which has resulted in diplomatic pressure and subsequent pledges by the Thai government to protect these workers. Since the downgrade and investigation, Western supermarkets are also beginning to take action to address the issue of forced labor in their supply chains.
Media attention on this issue continues today. While exploitation in the sector persists, the appalling system supporting Thailand’s seafood industry is being disrupted, the world is watching, and an opportunity for systemic change has emerged.
The Partnership For Freedom
Announced by President Obama September 2012, the Partnership for Freedom is a series of innovation challenges designed to inspire new solutions to modern day slavery in the United States.
In 2013, we launched the Partnership for Freedom’s first innovation challenge— Reimagine: Opportunity—with the goal of improving the infrastructure of support for survivors of modern day slavery. We received more than 160 proposals from which judges selected 12 finalists.
In January, finalist teams gathered in Washington, D.C. to attend an intensive three-day innovation workshop designed to further develop each team’s idea. Teams consulted with coaches from a wide range of fields and received feedback from trafficking survivors and fellow participants. In the end, finalists emerged with more robust and competitive proposals. While collaboration was an expected benefit of the workshop, some finalists leveraged this opportunity by merging their proposals after recognizing their shared goals and complementary strengths.
In April, we announced two winners of the Reimagine: Opportunity challenge: The MGH Freedom Clinic, which seeks to establish a pioneering model of comprehensive primary and preventative health care services for trafficking survivors; and Safe Shelter Collaborative, a mobile application that locates and provides immediate shelter services for survivors. Winners received $1.77 million in funding to begin piloting these solutions.
The Partnership for Freedom’s second innovation challenge will be launched in Fall 2015.
South Sudan: Challenges For Peace
In a year marked by the return of civil war to South Sudan, Humanity United shifted strategy to focus on supporting peacemaking efforts in the region and mobilizing action in policy circles in Washington, D.C. HU staff engaged both directly and behind the scenes in the peace process led by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and supported a number of South Sudanese peacemaking initiatives. Throughout the year, we also convened humanitarian and human rights advocacy organizations to build a unified voice calling for sustainable peace in the new country.
As the situation worsened in 2014, Humanity United engaged Congress and participated in several briefings that highlighted necessary steps to build peace and ease the suffering of the South Sudanese people. We worked with the media on behalf of the advocacy and aid community, sharing and publishing letters to the U.S. government, press releases, and opinion pieces. When a crucial arms embargo stalled in the U.S. government, Humanity United took the story to the press, pushing the U.S. to endorse it. In the following days, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced his support.
Our team also supported South Sudanese civil society efforts to help end the fighting and provided support to groups working on protection of human rights and dignity. We tried to ensure the people living in South Sudan were not forgotten amidst the violence. Working with partners, we supported a photographer who documented the internally displaced and hosted an event during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington for South Sudanese journalists to tell stories. We remain deeply committed to the people of South Sudan and will continue to stand by them as they navigate an uncertain future.
Spotlight: Policy Team
Humanity United’s policy team in Washington, D.C. regularly engages governments, civil society, and others to press for solutions to conflicts around the world, support people caught in and emerging from conflict, as well as those vulnerable to atrocities, abuse, and modern slavery.
In 2014, we worked hard to ensure attention and coordinated advocacy around the U.S. government’s responses to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia and the civil war in South Sudan. We worked with key partners to press for solutions to conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. Our policy team also successfully advocated for greater U.S. funding for two key areas: to address emerging complex crises around the world and to enforce sanctions against human rights violators.
Twenty years after the Rwandan Genocide, Humanity United and the Prevention and Protection Working Group, a coalition dedicated to atrocity prevention, worked with members of the U.S. Senate to develop S. Res 413, a resolution urging the U.S. government to strengthen its “ability to identify and more rapidly respond to genocide and mass atrocities in order to prevent where possible and mitigate the impact of such events.”
Humanity United established the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) in 2007 to ensure strong U.S. leadership in the global effort to combat modern slavery. With our support, ATEST expanded in 2014 and now includes 14 organizations that successfully advocated for significant new federal funding for U.S. victims of trafficking, as well as increased international anti-trafficking funding. Throughout the year, ATEST also worked closely with trafficking survivors to call for stronger U.S. policies to prevent and end human trafficking, to stop treating trafficking victims as criminals, and to provide critical survivor services. ATEST and Humanity United also supported a California law that protects foreign workers from abuse and human trafficking.
New challenges also emerged in 2014, especially as parts of an important piece of legislation—the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act—were threatened. As the unaccompanied child migrant crisis unfolded, Humanity United and ATEST worked to ensure that the important protections contained in this law were not changed, helping to prevent vulnerable children from being exploited by traffickers.