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November 2, 2017

ATEST and the Emergence of a More Independent Advocacy Movement

Over the last ten years, advocacy organizations have made the fight to end human trafficking and modern slavery an important priority in Washington. From repeated reauthorizations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and a more effective ban on the import of goods made with forced labor, to a tripling of federal funds specifically designated to combat trafficking, the trafficking advocacy movement has grown and repeatedly succeeded. Though politics have been polarized over the past decade, the successes of these efforts are not only because of the well-coordinated efforts of advocacy organizations, but because this issue has been embraced by both sides of the aisle and the Executive Branch.

At Humanity United, we have supported the movement to end human trafficking since 2004, including support for the advocates and survivors who have made these gains possible. During this time, we helped build the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), a coalition of U.S.-based human rights organizations that advocates for solutions to prevent and end all forms of human trafficking and modern slavery around the world. We have proudly supported capacity for the individual ATEST members, supplying central staff to help coordinate the coalition, and bringing in expertise to help the coalition meet its objectives.

ATEST has established itself as a vital and constructive voice in policy discussions and decisions related to human trafficking. We can measure its impact through the increases in resources allocated, laws enacted, and policies implemented, and see its effects through the intangibles: increased awareness and attention to the issue and progress in supporting survivor leadership. ATEST has built bridges and closed gaps among disparate groups, and promoted a holistic, comprehensive approach to anti-trafficking advocacy.

Because of these successes, ATEST is transforming to become an independent and self-sustaining coalition starting in 2018, united in common purpose to build on the efforts that have made it so successful over the past decade. As part of this transition, we feel it will be important to broaden the community of funders that is engaged with this important effort. Together, we can cement the strides ATEST has made over the past decade and protect and expand the resources our government has dedicated to combat trafficking.

With enthusiasm, vision, and careful planning, ATEST will continue to be a highly influential coalition that addresses the critical and timely issues that exist in this space. We strongly believe that the coalition’s transition to independence will strengthen its voice and impact.

At HU, we have watched the coalition’s progress and the way in which it has matured, and we are proud of the role we have played to shape and support its early development.

With tens of millions of people in the world suffering in situations of forced labor and exploitation, the need for a strong and united ATEST has never been greater. The most important work of the coalition is ahead and we are confident that ATEST will attract new supporters, which will strengthen the coalition and advance the movement to end modern slavery. We are excited to embrace the changes and challenges this transition brings, as well as the opportunity to support the field in becoming more comprehensive and effective.

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