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Integral Anti-Trafficking Collaboration

Integral Member Tearfund New Zealand has recently completed a mapping exercise for the newly formed Integral Alliance Anti-Trafficking and Exploitation Collaboration (IAATEC). Here Phil Newman, International Programmes Director at Tearfund New Zealand, tells us more about this innovative initiative that brings together 12 Integral Members with work in this sector…

Maya, a former trafficking victim, was rescued from a brothel and is now free. Tearfund New Zealand

What was the original inspiration for this initiative, and what do you hope to achieve?
The inspiration was a keen interest amongst a good number of Integral Members to work more closely together to address gross human rights violations. These violations include trafficking and exploitation, as well as across closely related areas such as child protection, sexual and gender based violence, gender equality, orphan care, and migration and livelihoods. 

Our aim this year is to put on a collaborative conference in November in Bangkok. This gathering will bring together all Integral Members involved with IAATEC and their partners. The goals of this conference are twofold – to create a global view of our anti-trafficking and exploitation and related work to better connect partners and programmes; and improve sharing of specialised knowledge and resources.

What has been some of the background work on this? What has it taken to make happen?
To get the ball rolling, Barbara-Anne Lewis, Anti-Trafficking and Exploitation Programme Specialist for Tearfund NZ, facilitated conversations with Integral Members. From those conversations we saw that there was a genuine interest to collaborate across the Alliance. We decided to follow up those conversations in a more formal setting and scope the potential for IAATEC. It was clear that there was a strong desire for Integral Members to learn from each other, and to see what, collectively, could be achieved in this critical area. 

Engagement with anti-trafficking partners, particularly in Thailand, enables the hosting of the conference and the participation of partners in several countries active across a number of the components of anti-trafficking action.

What did the mapping exercise show you? Anything surprising or interesting?
It was great to see the breadth of the work that Integral is involved in. The mapping demonstrates strength and participation in response to disasters (immediate and throughout recovery) and longer-term activities in dedicated development programmes.  It highlights the nature of trafficking and exploitation as a key area where Integral Members see a need to act as a central component of disaster response and development work.

What are some next steps
As well as hosting the conference in November, we would like the mapping to be shared on the Integral website as an interactive and dynamic resource, to be added to as information becomes available. Also, to continue to build the network in order to share resources/knowledge/expertise with one another, investigate joint research initiatives to improve knowledge and quality of programming and explore the potential for joint funding from external sources. We will also host quarterly Skype calls to keep in touch.

What are some specific examples of collaboration you would like to see amongst Integral Members, in the short and long-term?
We expect this to evolve out of the November conference.  While there may be immediate opportunities for Members to support one another’s programmes, it will be helpful to see the desire for collaboration lifted to joint project planning and long-term commitments to partner engagement.

What do you hope to see in the future?
My hope is that this topic can become one of the areas where Integral Members see strength in collective action – on programming, funding and advocacy.  We have an opportunity to raise our voice as a global alliance, to find like networks and agencies to join with when appropriate, and to support the Church in grappling with and acting on the challenge of transnational labour and sex trafficking.  It’s a complex, emotive and often misunderstood topic – Integral Alliance has a chance to be a leading light to educate and motivate Christians to respond.

What would it take to stop human trafficking?
No one approach is going to do it. We need collaboration, with people working to their strengths in order to address the ongoing issue of human trafficking.  Trafficking touches on organised and transnational crime, on corruption in governments and authorities, on apathy, stigma and a lack of priority resourcing, and the whole spectrum of policy and practice change, intelligence, investigation, prosecution, after-care, livelihoods and community transformation.  The issue needs to move beyond its often taboo status with governments, corporations and individuals.  It’s likely that, as the spotlight shines and awareness grows, reporting will increase before incidences decrease.  Those of us involved need to be in it for the long game and not be dissuaded by the slow pace of change.

What has inspired you about Integral in the relation to this process?
Integral is full of excellent organisations doing amazing work around the globe. We are so excited about the potential of strong collaboration across the Alliance, and excited to see the depth and breadth that the Integral membership covers. Further, it’s hoped that being able to tap into the expertise and passion of these organisations we will all be able to learn from one another and strengthen our projects in the process.  In particular, we recognise that much more can be achieved when we work together – we can exponentially increase the effectiveness of our work with co-investment and joint partnerships.  Anti-trafficking is not an ‘easy topic’ – we’re inspired by the willingness of Integral Members to tackle such a confronting and challenging area.

Any other comments?
I’d love to highlight the collaborative conference in November – we will be sending out more details soon: 7-9th November, in Bangkok, Thailand. Our Keynote speakers are Helen Sworn and Jarrett Davis. In addition to the key notes, we will hold a number of focus groups, panel discussions and various opportunities for people to share about their own expertise, and focus area.  

View the IAATEC Map which shows where they work.