Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore to Launch New UN Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking

Are you a despondent Democrat who woke up feeling salty about last night’s election returns?  If so, here is some news that might brighten your day.

At the United Nations tomorrow, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore are kicking off the launch of the “UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons.”  The fund is a way for individuals, governments, philanthropies and companies to pool resources to help trafficking victims, especially women and children.  The Trust Fund will provide humanitarian, legal and financial aid to victims of trafficking and will be administered by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

What this means, in practice, is that non-profits and NGOs that fight for the rights of trafficking victims and help with their social integration will have a new source of funding on which they can rely. For example, a small NGO that provides social services to women who have been lured into the sex trade can apply to this fund for a grant to expand their work to reach more victims.

The “trust funds for victims” model is currently being employed, to useful effect,  by the International Criminal Court.   In 2008, I met a social entrepreneur from Northern Uganda who used funding from the ICC’s Victim’s Trust fund to provide plastic surgery and psychological counseling to children who were mutilated during conflict.  With a small amount of funding, this NGO was able to change hundreds of lives.

This is an important development in the global fight against human trafficking, which is a billion dollar modern day slave trade.  To be sure, fighting human trafficking requires disrupting and dismantling the organized criminal networks that profit from selling women and children into slavery.   But any sustainable solution to this global scourge means that we need to do a much better job reaching victims themselves.   The new Trust Fund will be a critical tool to that end.

In addition to Moore and Kutcher, Ban Ki Moon, Nicholas Kristof and the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Yuri Fedotov will attend the launch tomorrow. You can watch live!

Here is hoping that Kutcher and Moore will use their considerable “klout” to spread the word and raise money for the new Fund.  Kudos to them for being involved in this.