The "Human Rights Challenge of Globalization in Asia-Pacific-US: The Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children" conference held in Honolulu, Hawaii was the initial event in Globalization Research Center's (GRC) on-going research project on Trafficking: Globalization and Labor. The GRC is housed at the University of Hawaii. Nearly 300 participants met at the East-West Center in Honolulu on November 13-15, 2002 to discuss trafficking in persons in the Asia-Pacific-US. The participants included academics, representatives from NGOs, law enforcement agents, and government representatives from countries throughout Asia and the United States. The conference included a plenary address given by Kevin Bales, Executive Director of Free the Slaves and author of Disposable People, who discussed human trafficking in the context of modern day slavery. Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director, UNIFEM, also made a plenary address in which she stressed that trafficking must be seen within a gender and human rights framework, as well as the necessity of understanding globalization and labor migration as components of the complex problem of trafficking. Closing remarks were made by Vitit Muntarbhorn, Law Professor at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, who spoke of the human rights imperative of addressing human trafficking, as well as the need to demythify human trafficking.
The conference concluded with the participants approving a Declaration. The Declaration was signed by the participants in which they agreed that trafficking in humans is a modern day form of slavery and must be eradicated. Participants in the Declaration pledged to build coalitions of agencies, organizations and individuals to combat trafficking at many levels, and also to call upon governments to vigorously implement anti-trafficking laws. The participants vowed to support a grass-roots movement to combat trafficking. Although this Declaration is not binding, it has created a sense of cooperation and agreement amongst the many groups working to combat trafficking in the Asia-Pacific-US regions.
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