Alliance 8.7 – the United Nations’ target to stop forced labor and trafficking, especially of children – will be launched in September, in conjunction with the opening of the General Assembly, when heads of state are in NYC. As part of its rich history with the United Nations, the League of Women Voters’ UN Observer Corps (Rosalee Keech, Mary Fox, Judy Schachter, Suzanne Stassevitch, Chris Sagona, and Robin Tokmakian) went to work on determining how the League could be involved in reaching the new UN Sustainable Development Goals. For many of us, the issue of human trafficking has been a clarion call to partner with others in order to stop this horrific issue. 

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), this issue affects 21 million people worldwide (including in the US) and is a $150 billion industry.  We worked with the US State Department and ILO as well as others in academia, the private sector and NGOs to create interest in fighting this issue from the demand side—stopping corporations from unwittingly purchasing forced labour and trafficking services.  ILO and the US State Department (through the US Mission to the UN) took the initiative to shine a light on the issue with panel discussions and high level meetings.  Working in conjunction with other member states, ILO formed Alliance 8.7. In accordance with Impact on Issues(our official position on Human Trafficking), the League has been instrumental in forming the NGO Coalition for Alliance 8.7 to raise awareness and urge the private sector to be part of the solution in stopping forced labour and trafficking. 

Our NGO Coalition consists of members from academia including Rutgers, Fordham and other universities, National Council of Jewish Women, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, ECPAT, NGO Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), International Federation of Business and Professional Women, Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas and others. We are working with industry sectors to understand if and how forced labour and trafficking affects each particular industry, and we are working to engage those corporations in the sector to join the Alliance and help stamp out the barbaric practice of human trafficking. 

Invited guests to the launch will include heads of state as well as corporate leaders in the NYC vicinity. The NGO Coalition is helping to identify those corporate leaders and further work with them in a Consultation Day to be held in October. US Secretary of State John Kerry has been invited to deliver the key note address at the launch. We are pleased to see that our concept of attracting NYC area industry, academic leaders and heads of state in conjunction with the opening of the General Assembly to publicly draw attention to the fight against human trafficking is taking shape!