Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Journal (2019-03-01)

Structures and Practices of Cross-Sector Engagement in Counter-Human Trafficking Coalitions in the Global South

  • Kirsten A. Foot,
  • Helen Sworn,
  • AnnJanette Alejano-Steele

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 1


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Human trafficking is a violation of human rights that takes many forms (U.S. Department of State, 2017). Participation in same-sector and multisector coalitions and collaborative counter-trafficking efforts are being actively encouraged by the aid industry globally. Working in partnership with other organizations within and across sectors is increasingly perceived as necessary. There is a wide variety of models for structuring and enacting multisector collaboration to counter human trafficking, but little is known yet about the effects of various models combined with the communication practices of leaders and members, on the functioning and outcomes of the collaborations, and most extant studies overlook the Global South. This paper helps redress the dearth of research on coalitions in the Global South through a multimethod, comparative analysis of three national level counter-trafficking coalitions (CTCs) operating in the regions of sub-Sahara Africa, Asia-Pacific Islands, and Southeast Asia. All three CTCs began in the civil society sector and are comprised primarily of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The primary research question addressed in this paper is: Through what structures and practices do NGO-led CTCs in Global South countries engage with public and private sector entities? Findings indicate similarities in the vulnerabilities of NGO-led CTCs in Global South countries, and the challenges they face in cross-sector interactions, but variations in the strategies they employ in those interactions. Each CTC engages the public and private sectors in their country in multiple ways: through membership in the CTC, partnerships with the CTC, and/or a range of engagement practices. Finally, NGO-led CTCs in the Global South engage in the kinds of cross-sector and local-global dynamics that are a key focus in critical cosmopolitan theorizing.