WASHINGTON – On Thursday, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, held a news conference with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) to applaud the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons award of $25 million to the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS). The funding establishes a bold global fund aimed at dealing a mortal wound to modern slavery and human trafficking internationally as originally conceived and directed by Corker’s End Modern Slavery Initiative Act.
Corker’s remarks at the news conference are included below.
“I want to thank you all for being here. This is, from our perspective, a truly monumental day.
“In 2017, as most of you know, more than 27 million people, many of them women and children, around the world live in slavery. It’s modern slavery. This is more people in slavery than at any other time in the world’s history. It happens in 165 countries around the world.
“It’s estimated that about 24 percent of this is sexual servitude, 76 percent of it is people in labor, whether it’s rug manufacturing, brick kilns, fishing. So, this is an issue that once you hear about it and see it as we have, you have to ask yourself the question: if the United States is not going to take leadership on this issue, who is?
“There are so many efforts around the world that are disjunctive. They’re great efforts, but there’s not a unified effort to really take this on internationally.
“And so working with these outstanding individuals, Senator Cardin, Senator Graham, we have an announcement to make today that I’m very, very proud of.
“More than two and half years ago, Senator Menendez and I, when he was the Democratic leader of the committee, were able to pass a bipartisan bill to build support towards an international effort that would be built upon U.S. leadership, but also other countries and the private sector, leveraging those efforts so that we could build upon this effort. We could lead it, but other nations would fall in line behind.
“Today, as you may have seen earlier, the State Department has announced a $25 million award to the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery and this means that today, we begin leading that effort. And while this is only the beginning, the funding represents culminations of years of work by faith groups and many groups that have been involved in fighting slavery around the world for many, many years.
“I want to say that this announcement today will be built upon next week in New York. There will be another exciting announcement that will be occurring there to build momentum around this effort.
“I want to thank the Trump administration, I really do, for being willing to support this effort by virtue of what is happening today. There was a bidding process that took place. The Global Fund to End Modern Slavery was able to win this award and has put together an organization to really drive this international effort that is based here in Washington.
“I also want to thank Ivanka Trump. We have spent numbers of hours with her and time. She’s taken this on as a personal initiative. Our team met with her yesterday. I think she may be on hand next week when this big announcement is announced in New York.
“But with that let me stop and turn to two individuals that I truly respect. Senator Cardin has been a great person to work with. Everything that we do in the foreign relations committee is done with a strong bipartisan effort. He’s been a tremendous leader, someone great for me to work with.
“And Senator Graham. I have to tell you, Senator Graham is someone who truly cares about U.S. leadership around the world. I think you see him demonstrating that in so many ways. Had he not taken ownership of this in the appropriations cycles, we would not be here today. I know we were together in meetings in other parts of the world where he took leadership of this. I cannot thank him enough because this surely would not have happened without his leadership.
“I also want to thank [Senator] John McCain. I think you know he’s been highly involved in this for a long time.
“Ed Royce, Mac Thornberry, Nita Lowey, Kay Granger, all of them involved in the appropriations process.
“Secretary Tillerson, who took ownership of this when he was just coming in and we were all talking to him about being Secretary of State, this is something he also took ownership of. Ambassador Coppedge [and] Kari Johnstone in the TIP office.
“And then just one more group, the end modern slavery board. There are four individuals that have been the organizing individuals: Jean Baderschneider, Ernie Allen, David Abramowitz, and Gary Haugen. I want to thank them very much.
“And with that, let me turn to my partner, my great friend Senator Cardin.”
Today, in 2017, more than 27 million people are enslaved around the world. That’s more than at any time in history. Two years ago, with input from leading stakeholders and industry experts, Senator Corker proposed a bold, bipartisan initiative to end modern slavery worldwide. Not unlike the role PEPFAR has played in fighting AIDS worldwide, the End Modern Slavery Initiative, which will operate as the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, is 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.