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Connecting People and Ideas for Integrated Development

Intersection of Human Trafficking and Combatting Violent Extremism

Panelist, keynotes and organizers of the conference (April 2018)

Panelist, keynotes and organizers of the conference (April 2018)

SUNY/CID’s Successful Conference Provides Cutting Edge Research into the Intersection of Human Trafficking and Combatting Violent Extremism

Human trafficking is one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time. Estimates suggest that over 24 million people are caught in this modern-day slavery, of which 64% are exploited for labor, 19% are sexually exploited, and 17% are exploited in state-imposed forced labor.

While many factors contribute to the risks of individuals falling prey to trafficking, they are at particular risk when they have willingly or unwillingly left their homes as migrants or refugees. UNHCR reports that approximately 65million individuals have been displaced due to conflict and violence. Unfortunately, incidences of violent extremism within countries such as Syria, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan have led to a growing number of displaced people around the world. Adding to this, as violent extremism destabilizes communities and makes people vulnerable to trafficking, these same violent extremist groups use trafficking as a revenue source. The State University of New York’s Center for International Development (SUNY/CID) brings to the forefront this intersection of trafficking and violent extremism to ascertain new ways to combat both issues.

On April 24, 2018, University at Albany’s Center for International Development (CID) held a Trafficking in Persons and the Crisis of Violent Extremism Conference to explore international development efforts working to address both of these crises and how new and innovative research efforts might help develop better solutions. Participants included representative from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance, New York State Department of State Office for New Americans, U.S Department of State’s President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF), Department of Homeland Security’s Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center, U.S Department of State’s Overseas Building Operations , development professionals, prominent researchers from within the University, and university groups interested in the subject.

The sessions provided a comparative overview of the work being done by development professionals on trafficking and violent extremism and identified some of the gaps in what we know about these problems. Researchers on the panels then shared some of the new and innovative research methods they were using and discussed how those methods might apply to achieve a better understanding of trafficking and its interface with violent extremism. It was agree that further research on the intersection of the two topics was vital to bringing about concrete solutions since there is currently little global data available.

Participants felt that they “gained a better understanding” of how the two issues correlated on a broader level. Gina Volynsky, Director of SUNY/CID, David E. Guinn, Senior Associate for SUNY/CID, and the Rockefeller College for Public Affairs and Policy International Affairs Master’s Capstone Team (Hairat Ajose, Matthew Ciotti, and Mia Nilo) were excited to bring such a subject to the attention of the university community because of the diverse population that the university houses. “This initiative will foster diversity and inclusion by demonstrating to the campus community that the university is committed to this topic at home and internationally”, said Volynsky. SUNY/CID has planted the seed for continued efforts on putting an end to trafficking locally and internationally, and countering violent extremism. This is the first of many events that the center will be holding for both matters.

This event was made possible by support from The Office of Diversity and Inclusion, University Auxiliary Services, and students interning/partnering with SUNY/CID who assisted with the event. It is the hope of CID to continue to partnering on bringing more awareness to issues that affect our local and international communities.

Posted August 3, 2018