WASHINGTON – As his time in Congress comes to a close, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today announced that Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) will take the helm of congressional efforts to combat modern slavery and human trafficking worldwide.
“For years, Senator Portman has been a champion in Congress in the fight against human trafficking here at home, and I can think of no one better to take up the mantle in the global fight against this scourge on humanity as I depart the Senate,” said Corker. “With passage of the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act and launch of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, we have made great progress in this fight, but much more work remains. While I plan to continue to play a role in this fight as a private citizen, I am incredibly grateful that Rob has agreed to take the helm in Congress to ensure this important work continues as we strive to end modern slavery once and for all.”
“I am honored that Senator Corker has entrusted me with this role and I want to thank him for his tireless and courageous efforts to combat this horrific crime around the globe,” said Portman. “Over the past decade we have made progress but there is much more to do both in the U.S. and in other countries to help end this scourge once and for all.”
More than 27 million people are enslaved around the world, more than at any time in history. While U.S. government agencies and non-profit organizations have taken significant steps to end this scourge on humanity, much more work remains. Recognizing the United States could not meet this challenge alone, three years ago, Senator Corker proposed a bold, bipartisan initiative to end modern slavery and human trafficking worldwide.
Not unlike the role PEPFAR has played in fighting AIDS across the globe, the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act was designed to leverage limited foreign aid dollars and galvanize tremendous support and investment from the public sector, philanthropic organizations, and the private sector to focus resources responsibly where the crime is most prevalent. With broad support from countless individuals, organizations, and faith-based institutions, authorizing legislation for the End Modern Slavery Initiative was included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 (NDAA), which overwhelmingly passed the Senate on December 8, 2016 and was signed into law by the president soon after.
Passage led to the creation of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS), a non-profit, grant-making foundation in the District of Columbia that is funding programs and projects outside of the United States that will:
- Contribute to the freeing and sustainable recovery of victims of modern slavery, prevent individuals from being enslaved, and enforce laws to punish individual and corporate perpetrators of modern slavery;
- Set clear, defined goals and outcomes that can be empirically measured; and
- Seek to achieve a measurable 50 percent reduction of modern slavery in the areas the foundation operates.
The foundation seeks to raise $1.5 billion over the next decade, more than 80 percent of which will come through matching funds from the private sector and foreign governments. To date, more than $105 million has been contributed to the fund, including:
- $46 million from the U.S. State Department (September 14, 2017)
- $25 million from the United Kingdom (September 19, 2017)
- $25 million from a private donor
- $11.6 million from Norway (December 18, 2018)
Progress of the fund’s success will be tracked against baseline data with a goal of achieving a 50 percent reduction in modern slavery in the areas where the fund is working. Projects that fail to meet goals will be suspended or terminated. The foundation is required to comply with the Government Accountability Office’s mandate to conduct financial audits and program evaluations.
During his time in the Senate, Portman has authored six federal anti-trafficking laws designed to better serve victims and help law enforcement end this crime – including most recently the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA). The law, which President Trump signed on April 11, 2018, is helping to curb the explosion of online sex trafficking and give victims the tools they need to hold accountable websites that knowingly facilitate the trafficking of women and children online.