Attention: Trafficking

By Brooks, Doug | Journal of International Peace Operations, May/June 2012 | Go to article overview

Attention: Trafficking


Brooks, Doug, Journal of International Peace Operations


Translating Policy Initiatives in to Successful Compliance

THE U.S. Congress's newfound interest in addressing the problem of labor trafficking is certainly welcome, given that the issue has long plagued U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Although hardly a new problem by any means, the issue may have been lost in the midst of so many other more immediate mission-related crises. Some well thought-out laws and regulations already on the books have been under-enforced for years by the governmental entities running the missions. Nevertheless, in the current enthusiasm to address labor trafficking, we should always keep in mind that international employees are gaining opportunities for well-paying jobs and careers, otherwise beyond their reach. More to the point, they bring enormous efficiencies, skills and capabilities to stability operations around the world - resources that we should not hamstring.

Congressional attention may be just the right medicine to add backbone to laws and regulations. We have seen how Congressional anger can quickly cut through bureaucratic impasses and force agencies to cooperate, policies to be developed, and, yes, even laws to be enforced. No government official looks forward to testifying before a Congressional committee to explain why his or her department has failed to enforce a law or regulation that is dear to a representative. Even worse is having his/her boss called to appear. Thus, high Congressional interest has a real impact on policy.

ISOA members have been clear on this policy, and every company that joins the Association agrees to support our own Code of Conduct which includes clauses recognizing the right of employees to understand the risks and circumstances of their employment and, if desired, to terminate that employment. Government clients must always navigate a labyrinth of contracting regulations, and the better that companies are able to stay in compliance, the more successful they are likely to be in the field.

When governments ignore their own rules and laws and choose contractors solely on cost (aka lowest price, technically acceptable' -LPTA), it undermines the companies that spend resources on ensuring compliance with all laws and regulations, not just the laws and regulations currently in vogue. Shamefully, some public policy institutes and Congress itself have been guilty of advocating the lowest-price-at-any-cost mentality that infects too much of the government in these vital stability policies. Such policies lead to many losers, including the tax payers who receive sub-par and noncompliant services that can actually harm vital international policies. …

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