September 2016

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This is the story of two fathers in Honduras: Jose Gustavo, a farmer who is motivated by his faith and the loss of his daughter Maria Paula, and Hector, whose 16-year-old daughter Janeth helps him grow coffee.

Read how overcoming poverty through sponsorship and economic development helps to defend childhood and enables children to experience full lives right where God planted them.

There is something very special about the relationship between a father and a daughter. When I was 28, I lost my dad to cancer. I’ve missed him so—his hearty laugh and big, gap-toothed smile. His death left a deep trench in our family. We lost our protector—our defender.

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By Leanne McCallum, Human Trafficking Index Project Manager

In November of 2015, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) made an historic move by creating the ASEAN Convention and Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons Especially in Women and Children (ACTIP). This action plan has the potential to instigate lasting improvements in Southeast Asia’s notoriously deplorable human trafficking situation. The symbolic significance of this action plan’s creation is worth noting; however, its functional capability is currently dead in the water. The action plan is still waiting on three more ASEAN members to ratify it, so it currently lies dormant and waiting for implementation. After nearly a year of delay, the question lingers: when will the ACTIP officially be enacted, and what are the repercussions for Southeast Asia if it isn’t enacted soon?

Catalyst for Creation of an Action Plan

The ACTIP was formulated in the wake of the grave humanitarian crisis surrounding migration in Southeast Asia. International outcry began in 2014 amid the horror stories of thousands of Burmese Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi migrants crossing the Andaman Sea and Straits of Malacca. These groups’ inherent vulnerability led to trafficking on a massive scale. Particularly, reports of mass graves of Rohingya along the Thai-Malaysia border in 2015 were a catalyst for ACTIP’s creation. Due to the international nature and the immense scope of the crisis, countries have been unable to address this crisis on an individual or internal level. While ASEAN had previously created the “Declaration Against Human Trafficking, Especially in Women and Children” in 2004, this declaration is nonbinding and unenforceable – leaving ASEAN members without operable mechanisms to facilitate cooperation on anti-trafficking efforts.

Few Countries Bear the Brunt of the Problem

Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand in particular have had to bear the brunt of the trafficking problems surrounding the displaced Burmese and Bangladeshi people. Southeast Asia currently lacks governance channels for regulating regional transnational trafficking. The region’s strict adherence to sovereignty and national autonomy have also rendered external intervention into countries like Burma impossible. These conditions have allowed countries of origin of trafficking victims to ignore the human rights atrocities driving people to flee, and subsequently fall into conditions of trafficking, without repercussion. Even worse, due to their statelessness  Rohingya trafficking victims are often stranded in detention centers indefinitely after being rescued. As of October 2015, Thailand alone had to provide shelter and services to more than 600 rescued Rohingya who were barred from returning to Burma.

Overview of ACTIP

The ACTIP was adopted during Malaysia’s ASEAN chairmanship, and was officially approved at the 27th ASEAN Summit in November 2015. It aims to “effectively address these challenges so as to progressively prevent, suppress and punish all forms of trafficking in persons including the protection and assistance to victims of trafficking in the region and work towards an enhanced comprehensive and coordinated regional approach to achieve this objective”. Its three main goals are to strengthen the rule of law and border control, prosecute more traffickers, and strengthen regional cooperation. The format of ACTIP closely follows the structure of the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children (known as the Palermo Protocol). It is a legally binding action plan that would be enacted 30 days after its ratification by six ASEAN member countries.

Lack of Ratification

Currently, only three countries have ratified ACTIP: Singapore, Cambodia, and Thailand. The low number of ratifications may be due to the action plan’s progressive capacity building, resource allocation, and education requirements. While it is predictable that certain countries like Burma or Bangladesh, origin countries with egregious human rights records, would avoid ratifying the ACTIP, it is unclear why other countries like the Philippines, a country at the forefront of best practices anti-trafficking work, are also dragging their feet. Even more concerning is that as the monsoon season comes to an end in October-November, migration will accelerate once again and create a new wave of transnational trafficking that the region will have to address.

A Call to ASEAN Members

It is crucial that the remaining holdout ASEAN members ratify the ACTIP. The three countries that have already ratified it, along with the anti-trafficking community, need to call directly on the holdout members to take action immediately. Should enough ASEAN members choose to follow through, it will demonstrate the region’s commitment to combating human trafficking, and will provide a platform for the ASEAN region to address grave regional trafficking issues like that of the Rohingya. Given a chance, the ACTIP could become a viable pathway to progress, action, and accountability in the region. But until then, this progressive action plan has been rendered meaningless. It remains unclear whether ASEAN will be able to enact the ACTIP before the one year anniversary of its adoption.

*The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the position of the HTC

Photo Credit: ASEAN 


About the Human Trafficking Center

The Human Trafficking Center, housed in the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, is the only two-year, graduate-level, professional-training degree in human trafficking in the United States. One way graduate students contribute to the study of human trafficking is by publishing research-based blogs. The HTC was founded in 2002 to apply sound research and reliable methodology to the field of human trafficking research and advocacy.

Founded in 1964, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies is one of the world’s leading schools for the study of international relations. The School offers degree programs in international affairs and is named in honor of its founder and first dean, Josef Korbel.

 

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Children spend 7 hours a day on screens, but what if screen time can be a positive thing?

Blogger Haley Bodine writes about how she cultivated compassion with her son and helped shape his character with Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey.

Read about their Odyssey Adventure Club and start your 14-day free trial!

I recently wrote a blog post with a few tips on how to engage children in acts of compassion. I focused primarily on ways that children can be world changers right where they are, at whatever age they are. What I didn’t discuss was the “behind the scenes” character development involved that shapes the hearts of children into who they are and who they will grow up to be.

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In Bangladesh, we’re helping women like Jachinta learn new business skills. When families earn better incomes, they can better provide for their children.

And in a country like Bangladesh where half of girls are married by 15, these parents don’t feel they need to marry their daughters off so young.

Read more about our “Fresh Start” program!

As part of my role at World Vision, I have the privilege of meeting people in the communities where we work. Earlier this month, I met nine young moms who will likely be part of our new program in Bangladesh, called Nobo Jatra (A New Beginning).

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The global refugee crisis is an opportunity to demonstrate what we as Christians stand for: compassion, not fear; people, not politics; and concern for others. It’s our chance to show that we don’t see refugees as unloved. We try to see them as God does: as made in His image, full of potential, and beloved.

This International Day of Peace, join our president Rich Stearns in reaching out to refugees with love.

 

Do you hate war? I’m sure I know the answer. Everyone loathes war and its effects. Perhaps you or a family member has seen war up close while serving in the armed forces, and if so, you know better than me how horrific it is.

We can pray for peace, but there’s not much else we can do as individuals—or even World Vision, as a humanitarian organization—to actually end conflict. That’s the realm of governments and power brokers.

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Living a life of compassion and justice is obedient to how God wants us to live as Christians. God says that it is advantageous to our own souls to choose to care about the poorest people in the world.

Blogger Haley Bodine explains how the book of Proverbs—a book about living wisely—tell us it is not only good of us to love the poor … it is also good for us.

If given the choice between being known as a wise person or a foolish one, most (dare I say all?) of us would want to be known as the former. We want to be known as people who live wisely in our homes, at our jobs, and in our communities. We would rather be known for being wise than for being the village fool.

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