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Uncertain Outcomes: Evaluating the Effects of the Trafficking in Persons Reports in South Africa and Thailand

Abstract

Demonstrated by the establishment of anti-human trafficking institutions such as the Palermo Protocol and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 (and the associated Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reports), the commodification of forced labor swiftly rose to the forefront of political and humanitarian consciousness beginning in the 1990s. The dominating institution remains the unilaterally enforced TIP reports, issued annually by the United States. This paper examines the TIP reports, seeking to explain their effects on human trafficking outcomes for institution-implementing nations. Focusing on two critical cases—Thailand and South Africa— this research demonstrates the ways in which the same anti-trafficking models can lead to very different consequences—both beneficial and costly— for implementing countries. Ultimately, through an examination of cultural values, political alliances, and economic well-being for implementing nations, it is shown that the effects of the TIP reports on human trafficking outcomes-- as measured by the new 3P human trafficking index-- are dependent on complex and differing variables that are difficult to empirically measure. Further research is needed to draw finite conclusions as to what settings within a domestic country allow the TIP reports to have beneficial human trafficking outcomes

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