In the late 1990s, the United States started pressuring other countries to combat human trafficking. Since 2001, the State Department has been evaluating the anti-trafficking efforts of governments around the world. The analysis is published annually in the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which has become the cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy on this issue. Governments whose efforts are deemed “insignificant” may be subject to economic and diplomatic sanctions by the U.S. government. Through analysis of media coverage, government proceedings, and interviews with select stakeholders, this study explores the ways in which the U.S. system of unilateral pressure influenced the anti-trafficking policies of Israel, the Philippines, and Thailand.
Findings show that, for U.S. anti-trafficking pressure to be successful, it had to be combined with pressure “from below” by civil society organizations. These organizations leveraged U.S. pressure to further their own agenda vis-à-vis their governments. This study further reveals that the domestic policymaking process is highly susceptible to pressure by other countries, particularly during the agenda setting phase. Specifically, the U.S. TIP Report has a demonstrated capability to forcibly open policy windows, to act as a policy transfer agent, and to generally accelerate the socialization of states into compliance with international norms. However, U.S. pressure also has unintended consequences, particularly in the form of anti-trafficking policies that violate human rights and harm the people they purport to protect.
|Subjects||International relations; International law; Public policy|
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