February 10, 2011
Professor Jonathan Todres, whose research has focused on human trafficking for a number of years, was invited by the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking in 2009 to participate in its REACH Initiative. The REACH Initiative is aimed at developing a better understanding of the realities of human trafficking from Asia to other parts of the world with a view to creating more effective tools for assisting victims of human trafficking and preventing such exploitation.
As part of this project, Todres led a team of four College of Law students - Michael Baumrind, Jillian Brasfield, Nichole DeVries, and Calvin Yaeger - in researching the trafficking of individuals from the Greater Mekong Sub-Region to the United States. In Fall 2009 and Spring 2010, the team produced a number of reports for the REACH Initiative, examining sex trafficking and labor trafficking in the United States and detailing responses by federal and state governments as well as non-governmental organizations. The team also produced final recommendations for the REACH Initiative.
"The students’ work was really impressive, said Todres, "Human trafficking is a tremendously complex issue to address, and research in this area is replete with challenges. The students never let that deter them."
Despite the complexities of the research, the students felt fortunate to be able to contribute to global efforts to address the problem of trafficking. "This was one of the most rewarding projects I have worked on in law school," said Michael Baumrind, a third-year law student. He noted: "Research for policymakers is an important step in fostering positive changes in domestic and international law. I enjoyed collaborating with a professor and other student-volunteers to think creatively about the problem and potential solutions for human trafficking."
Todres said the faculty-student collaboration worked very well. "For me, being able to involve law students in some of my international work was particularly exciting," he observed "They contributed significantly to every aspect of this project."
For more information about the REACH Initiative, go to http://www.no-trafficking.org/reach_what.html.