Worldwide, more than 25 million victims of human trafficking are enslaved for the commercial gain of others. This pervasive violation of basic human rights has led to a widespread movement of governments pledging to end modern slavery as one of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and to adapt the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol.

Despite the gravity and prevalence of human trafficking, there is a notable lack of evidence on what programs work to reduce trafficking and support victims. While there have been numerous high-quality studies to document the complex dynamics of human trafficking, there are very few rigorous impact evaluations that reliably test strategies for addressing trafficking and can be used to design evidence-based programs and policies.

To support research on this critical and understudied topic, IPA has established the Human Trafficking Research Initiative in partnership with the Program to End Modern Slavery (PEMS) at the U.S. Department of State, and with scientific advisors Guy Grossman (University of Pennsylvania) and Cecilia Hyunjung Mo (University of California, Berkeley). The initiative will foster partnerships between researchers and practitioners; innovate on and improve the research methods for studying this challenging topic; initiate formative pilot testing of programs; and conduct large-scale studies on the efforts to prevent trafficking, prosecute crimes, and protect trafficked persons.

The initiative is guided by a global Research and Learning Agenda that outlines priority research questions and provides a working analytic framework to promote analysis of programs spanning the 4Ps framework of human trafficking initiatives: prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnership. The priority themes and guiding questions were developed through a consultative process with leading policymakers, practitioners, and researchers during the first year of the Initiative. This Research and Learning Agenda will guide HTRI’s development and selection of exploratory and pilot grants as well as full-scale impact evaluations/randomized control trials through the HTRI Competitive Fund.

Partner With Us

HTRI is actively seeking to facilitate connections between organizations and government bodies aiming to evaluate their programs and researchers who are focused on understanding the underlying factors driving human trafficking and tangible ways to combat it. If you are working to reduce trafficking, or if you are a researcher who is carrying out or planning a study on the topic, get in touch with us by emailing the HTRI team.